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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: Final Scene of *The Changeling*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0709.  Wednesday, 25 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Richard A Burt <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 10:16:30 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0704  Q: Final Scene of *The Changeling*

[2]     From:   Richard Bovard <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 10:06:29 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0704  Q: Final Scene of *The Changeling*

[3]     From:   Chris Clark <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 14:29:35 -0400
        Subj:   Final Scene of *The Changeling*


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A Burt <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 10:16:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0704  Q: Final Scene of *The Changeling*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0704  Q: Final Scene of *The Changeling*

> I . . .  am interested in how B-J dies. . . . is
> it possible that B-J also stabs herself in this scene at line 180?
> Could the "token" that D-F gives B-J (176) be the knife he uses on
> himself?  Or could the "token" be his willingness to commit suicide?
> And does she then follow suit?

I'm no expert in the textual matters of this play, but your reading
seems plausible enough to me.  The play (at least the main plot) is very
much _Sid and Nancy_.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Bovard <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 10:06:29 -0500
Subject: 8.0704  Q: Final Scene of *The Changeling*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0704  Q: Final Scene of *The Changeling*

Students in my Renaissance Drama course this spring were also puzzled
about what happened in the closet.  Some argued for DeFlores's wounding
Beatrice-Joanna; some argued for her suicide.  Our textual editor
assumed the wounding.  While most decided that the wounding was more
consistent with DeFlores's character than the suicide with
Beatrice-Joanna's character, all were willing to recognize yet one more
"secret" in the play . . . or at least one more instance of the limits
of human knowledge.  They were a tad uncomfortable with experiencing the
same thing that the characters experienced, however.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Clark <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jun 1997 14:29:35 -0400
Subject:        Final Scene of *The Changeling*

I am 17 from the UK and have just done an exam on The Changeling, so I
know it pretty well... I'll view your question, and give you my personal
response...

Could I see what you've written so far please?

Here's my twopennorth:

In my opinion, we must consider Beatrice's death symbolically... her
subconscious attraction to De Flores is fatal, and the danger he
presents is reflected Platonically in his corrupt appearance.
Considering that he is clearly a violent, Machiavellian villain [murders
Alonzo and  Diaphanta], it is fair to say that he is dangerous, and that
it is he that causes her trouble (even if it is through her fatal flaw,
which is not knowing herself, or to term it crudely being 'mad') - it is
therefore logical that as he condemned her, he should also be the one to
kill her, even if it is just for the symmetry of the play.. also, the
text I use (New Mermaids, ed Daalder, 1990), quotes the entry of B & DF
as 'Enter DE FLORES bringing in BEATRICE [wounded]'

When Beatrice says on line 158, 'my honour fell with him, and now my
life' that to me implies that she already knows that she is going to
die, and is not talking intention, because the possibility would [if she
had not already been stabbed] still exist that she could be kept alive.

I accept the possibility that the 'token' is the penknife, and that she
is to kill herself too, but I consider it more likely that this is 1)
just another sexual ambiguity, 2) a sign of his 'love' for her, 3)
expression of his willingness to die for her.

Regardless of whether it happens in the cupboard, the knife is
suggestive of the phallus, which has destroyed Beatrice [he says 'I am
so stout yet' - this allusion is obvious, but perhaps it also refers to
the knife, ready for one final use?] and himself.

I don't think you can really argue that what De Flores and Beatrice feel
for each other is 'doomed love.' Beatrice says she loves De Flores, but
she is by definition as according to the subplot insane like De Flores,
and driven by lust.. neither of them love each other, they are driven by
animal passion and selfishness.

The theme of the tale is madness, which is shown by the madhouse scenes,
which mirror the subplot... so, no, love is a form of insanity [change
of the wind for Alsemero, failure to see with the eye of judgement for
Alonzo..], as is the lack of awareness of her own feelings that Beatrice
has, and the cynical and evil concentration of De Flores upon pleasure.

I hope my suggestions are of some value, please feel free to contact me
if you so desire...

What other texts are you studying by the way?

Cheers,
Chris
 

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