Folly and Madness in "The Changeling"
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The Challenge of "The Changeling" is, to put it bluntly, to discover what it is `about', and if despite much recent activity critics have not been able to provide us with a satisfactory answer that is because they have failed to grasp how the sub-plot relates to the main plot. It has been understood in a vague and general way that the plots must somehow be related, and that the relationship is one of irony, but nevertheless the sub-plot continues to be seen as some sort of adjunct to the play — possibly not irrelevant, but not essential. Daalder believes that, on the contrary, we can only understand the main plot if we understand the sub-plot, and that the relationship is vital. "The Changeling" is above all a study, in dramatic form, of folly and madness. It is interested in making us aware of what is `abnormal' in the workings of the human mind. It is the sub-plot which sets up the most basic distinction between folly and madness, and develops the concept of madness which helps us to grasp its nature in the main plot.