Article Title

Madhouse Optics: The Changeling


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

"That the eye is a traitor, and ought ever to be mistrusted: that form is deceiful..."1 Here addressing her seducer, Lovelace, Clarissa defines the heuristic value and moral issues of her lugubrious experience with reality. These words might be fixed as emblematic device to the history of this deceived and self-deceived young woman, for they spell out the tragic consequences of her innocent failure of vision. They might apply as well to another, earlier heroine who also - but more dreadfully and guilty - becomes like Clarissa "a suffering person" as she myopically pursues the objects desired by her vagrant ego. At first Beatrice-Joanna in The Changeling perceives her future as an expanding universe of possibilities. Initially untried and superbly confident of her ability to control her density, she gradually becomes an experienced and moral woman who is compelled to face the consequences of her faulty sight and to acknowledge the isolating and inconsolable quality of her guilt.2

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.