Why does Mr. Wopsle change his name to Mr. Waldengarver in Chapter 31?Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter XXX, Pip reaches into his pocket and finds a playbill which Joe has given him.  Quickly, he tells Herbert about the "celebrated provincial amateur of Roscian renown."  So, in Chapter XXXI, Mr. Wopsle is performing in Hamlet at the theatre; he has changed his name to Waldengarver for the stage.  But, no only is his stage name ridiculous, so is his appearance as Pip describes it,

My gift townsman stood gloomily apart with folded arms, and I could have wished that his curls and forehead had been more probable.

His performance as Hamlet is a parody.  Pip and Herbert attempt applauding, but the laughter overrides their applause.  After the serious conversation that Pip has had with Herbert in which he has declared his love and devotion to Estella, the comic relief of Mr. Waldengarver's ridiculous performance points to the foolish idea of people that they can make themselves into something else as  Mr. Wopsle's performance is absurb to everyone but himself.

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Great Expectations

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