The Shakespeare Stealer

by Gary Blackwood

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What is a theme that the author develops in chapter 16 of The Shakespeare Stealer?

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In chapter 16 of The Shakespeare Stealer, Widge talks to the actor Chris Beeston, a former apprentice. Beeston explains that there is a history of playbooks being stolen from theaters. Simon Bass is brought up as a notorious thief who makes use of his makeup skills in order to steal plays. This makes Widge uncomfortable, since Bass is the master who sent Widge to steal Hamlet. Widge begins to feel at home in the company, and is happy to be offered a small part.

In this chapter, the themes of loyalty, honesty, and right and wrong are all connected. Widge must decide who he will be loyal to: Simon Bass or the acting company. He is uncomfortable when his master's name is brought up, because he is not being honest with the others about his true reason for being there. He is also uncomfortable during the discussion of stolen playbooks, because he recognizes that stealing is wrong, even though it is what he is tasked to do. Widge wrestles with the conflict between performing the job he was given and the happiness he feels with the players.

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