Folly and Madness in "The Changeling"
Oxford University Press
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.
Daalder, Joost 1988. Folly and Madness in "The Changeling". 'Essays in Criticism', vol.38, no.1, 1-21.