How is Thomas Middleton's The Changeling different from traditional tragedies?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The Changeling, by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley displays many of the features common to Jacobean tragedy, and is also emblematic of the way that tragedy had evolved from classical models. First, there were the obvious changes in performance, including elimination of the chorus, the actors no longer wearing masks, and the presence of more than three actors. On the level of plot, a major generic shift was to the comic sub-plot, often with rustics, madmen, or fools, a feature not found in classical tragedy. Another change is that classical tragedy tended to emphasize fundamentally good people who either could not escape ancestral curses or who made a fatal error of some sort, whereas all the characters in The Changeling are without redeeming virtues; there is no sense of a struggle for moral goodness, only an effort to get away with immoral behaviour.

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poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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The Changeling is classified as a Jacobean tragedy and, thus, exhibits many differences from the classic Greek tragedies (the origin of the genre). Early tragedies contained conventions that The Changeling does not possess. For example, no chorus is present in The Changeling, whereas the chorus played an integral part in commenting upon the action of the play in Greek tragedies.

The Changeling also veers in a darker direction, with the emphasis being placed on the sub-genre of "revenge tragedy." This includes the murder of Alonzo by De Flores, as well as a surprisingly comic subplot involving the young, married Isabella and the three men--Franciscus, Antonio, and Lollio--who are in love with her. 

Additionally, The Changeling was written for an indoor theater rather than an outdoor playhouse. Other differences in staging include the fact that the actors do not appear masked in productions of this play (as they would in Greek tragedies). 

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