The Changeling Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 22 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Changeling.
This section contains 1,304 words
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The Changeling Summary & Study Guide Description

The Changeling Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Reading on The Changeling by Thomas Middleton.

Act 1

When The Changeling begins, Alsemero has fallen in love with Beatrice, whom he has just met in a church. He intends to cancel his voyage from Alicant, Spain, to Malta, and marry her. When he tells Beatrice of his love, she regrets that five days ago she was promised in marriage to Alonzo de Piracquo.

De Flores enters the scene; he is the servant of Vermandero, Beatrice's father. Beatrice despises De Flores, but he is in love with her and persists in seeing her at every opportunity. When her father enters, Beatrice asks him to invite Alsemero to his castle. Vermandero agrees when he discovers that Alsemero's deceased father was an old friend of his.

The second scene introduces the subplot. Alibius, an old doctor who is in charge of a lunatic asylum, confides in his servant Lollio that he is worried his young wife Isabella may seek affection elsewhere. He asks Lollio to keep watch on her while he is away and to prevent visitors to the madhouse from seeing her. Pedro and Antonio enter; Antonio is dressed to look like a fool, and Pedro pays Alibius to admit him to the asylum.

Act 3

While De Flores is showing Alonzo around the castle, De Flores stabs him to death. Unable to remove a ring from Alonzo's finger, he cuts off the finger instead.

Meanwhile, in the madhouse, Lollio introduces Isabella to Franciscus, who is only pretending to be mad, and to Antonio, who is only pretending to be a fool. Both men wish to gain access to Isabella. After Lollio exits, Antonio reveals his true self and declares his love for Isabella, but she is not impressed. Antonio persists, and Lollio overhears his words of love. After he escorts Antonio out, Lollio makes a pass at Isabella. She tells him that if he does not stop, she will get Antonio to cut his throat. Alibius enters and informs them they must get some madmen and fools to put on a dance to entertain the guests at the wedding of Beatrice and Alonzo.

De Flores reports to Beatrice that he has murdered Alonzo. He shows her the dead man's finger, which horrifies Beatrice. The ring was a gift from her, at her father's request. She tells De Flores to keep the ring, which is worth three hundred ducats. When this does not please him, she gives him three thousand golden florins. De Flores explains that he did not commit murder for financial reward, but Beatrice does not understand what he is trying to tell her. She offers to double the sum, but when he scorns at that, she asks him to get out of the country and to write to her, naming his own price. He replies that if he leaves, she must too, since they are bound together in guilt. He tries to kiss her and reveals how desperately he wants to make love to her. She tries to reject him, but he reminds her of her guilt. She tries to impress on him the difference in their social class, but he claims that her evil act has made them equals. He says that if she does not do what he wants, he will inform on her. She makes one last effort to offer him money, but again he refuses. She begins to see the terrible consequences of her actions.

Act 5

Beatrice is angry with Diaphanta because it is two o'clock in the morning and the maid still has not returned. De Flores sets fire to Diaphanta's chamber, hoping she will run home and die in the fire. Beatrice starts to love him because he takes care of her interests. The plan works; Diaphanta is burnt to death.

Tomazo, still seeking revenge but not knowing on whom to take it, encounters De Flores and strikes him in anger. De Flores does not hit back since he feels the pangs of conscience. Vermandero informs Tomazo that he has arrested Antonio and Franciscus for the murder; their behavior in disguising themselves looked so suspicious.

Alsemero accuses Beatrice of adultery. She confesses that she employed De Flores to murder Alonzo, but explains that she did it out of love for Alsemero. Alsemero confronts De Flores with Beatrice's confession. Then Vermandero, who believes he has caught the murderers, enters, and Alsemero brings forth the guilty pair. De Flores has fatally wounded Beatrice and has also stabbed himself. Beatrice confesses she sent Diaphanta in her place to the bedroom, and De Flores admits his guilt. He stabs himself again and dies; Beatrice dies also, leaving Vermandero, Tomazo, and Alsemero to reflect on the fact that justice has been done.

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This section contains 1,304 words
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Drama for Students
The Changeling from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.