In The Shakespeare Stealer, what made Widge change his mind about stealing the play?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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You might find it interesting to think about the transformation that Widge undergoes as he himself identifies it in Chapter 23 after his performance at Whitehall in front of Queen Elizabeth I. Widge at this stage has made his decision to stay true to his new friends and family, the players and the company, rather than continue with the plan of deceiving them and stealing the copy of the play. Note what he says about his own change and the impact of playing Ophelia in front of the Queen on his character:

In the space of a few hours, I had done more than transform temporarily into Ophelia. I had undergone a more dramatic change, from a shabby impostor, a thief and an orphan who had been given a task far beyond his abilities, into a reliable, valued member of an acting company who performed daily at the centre of the universe.

Widge therefore decides to drop stealing the copy of the play because he has found something much more important and valuable to him. From the very beginning of the story, when Widge talked about his time in the orphanage and the way that the boys all dreamt of finding a true family, Widge has been looking for somewhere to belong. Now he has found his own family, stealing the play becomes unimportant.


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