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the beggars opera

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Jessica Tapia

on 13 December 2012

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Transcript of the beggars opera

John Gay "The Beggars Opera" By: Jessica Tapia John Gay's Biography John Gay was born in Barnstaple, Devon, England on June 30, 1682. John was an orphan at the age of 10, the Reverend John Hammer, agreed to take care of him. John went to London to be an apprentice to a silk merchant. John Gay is famous for The Beggar's Opera. He was an English writer best known for comical plays and satires. However, he dedicated himself to poetry. The Beggars Opera A new form of Drama With The Beggar's Opera, John Gay had created a new theater genre that is still in existence today. The novelty of the opera is what paved the way for its success. Gay combined popular tunes of the day, witty text, and political, social, and cultural satire, a combination that was unlike anything else that had been experienced before.


The Beggar's Opera is a satirical piece of theater first performed in 1728. Even though it is called an opera, the songs are arranged as ballads rather than operatic scores, and the content not only makes fun at the real operas that were popular at the time, but also summarizes an amusing way of the double standards of prejudice politics and society of 18th-century. The opera opens with Peachum, the thief-catcher, looking through his accounting books. He and his wife, Mrs. Peachum, are horrified when Polly, their daughter, announces that she has secretly married the highwayman, Macheath. Peachum and Mrs. Peachum see no redemption in the marriage, until Mr. Peachum decides that if Macheath is killed, the Peachums could collect Polly's inheritance; the couple plots the pursuit of Macheath. This alarms Polly who warns Macheath at once of her parents' plan. Macheath retreats to a tavern where several solicitous women are lurking. The women befriend him as they talk of their lives of crime, but two of the women turn him over to Peachum.
Macheath is brought to Newgate prison, where the warden is Lockit. Lockit's daughter Lucy is madly in love with Macheath, who had previously made a proposal of marriage to her. Macheath swears his affection, but Polly arrives and reveals Macheath as her husband in front of Lucy. Macheath tries to cover Polly's claim by insisting that Polly is mad. Lucy is not completely satisfied, but she still devotes herself to his escape. Lockit finds out about the promised marriage to his daughter and realizes that he may be entitled to Macheath's money, upon Macheath's execution. Lockit meets Peachum to discuss this matter; Mrs. Trapes conveniently interrupts their meeting and announces Macheath's hiding place. Peachum and Lockit join forces together to capture Macheath.

Meanwhile, Polly seeks Lucy in hopes of saving Macheath. Lucy has planned to poison Polly, but Polly avoids the tainted cup. The two find out that Macheath has been captured and plead with their fathers to save him. Macheath is at the gallows and ready to die; he offers his last words to Polly and Lucy. The Beggar returns and announces that a moral ending would include the hanging of Macheath. However, since the audience came to see a happy ending, Macheath is released and whispers to Polly that she is his true wife Macheath Polly Lucy and the father Lokit Mr. Peachum and Mrs. Peachum Love triangle Scene Breakdown Gallacher, Ian, "The Beggar's Opera and its Criminal Law Context" (2006). College of Law Faculty Scholarship. Paper 5. http://surface.syr.edu/lawpub/5 Sources Act 1 Scene 1
Though all the employments of life
Each Neighbor abuses his brother;
Whore and rouge they call husband and wife;
All professions be-rouge one another,
The priest calls the lawyer a cheat,
The lawyer be-knaves the divine;
And the statesman, because he's so great,
Thinks his trade as honest as mine. Act 1, Scene 1 best states the main theme of this production: no social class or profession is any better or more moral than another. HUmberto Garcia a student in Vanderbilt University during his English Literature Course said

Lines 1-2 say, in every stage of maturation, in ever social class, and in every occupation, friends betray friends, and family mistreats family. By saying “each neighbor,” Gay is not excluding anyone; every human being is guilty of such abuses. No one is above them. Christina Law Another student in the same class said, Lines 3-6 explains how in comparing whores and rouge to married couples Gay is saying that husbands and wives are no better than pimps and prostitutes. A wife, during this time period, would legally sign her body over in marriage in exchange for something (usually financial stability, money). This exchange, then, makes a legally binding contract the only difference between prostitution and marriage. Theme Characters The other wives Interesting Facts
According to Ian Gallacher from his reasearch "The Beggar's Opera and its Criminal Law Context" (2006). John Gay's Mr.Peachum is universally recognized as being based on Jonathan Wild, the prototypical criminal mastermind. And while the specifics of Wild‘s career are by no means identical with Gay‘s fictional account, many of the principals by which Peachum operates can be seen to have been drawn from Wild‘s career.
Even Mrs.Peachum, Polly, Lucy, and Mr.Lockit were characters that can be gleaned from their names.
John Gay used similar names in his characters to the criminals in London so the audience would be able to recognize. http://surface.syr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=lawpub&sei-re http://www.umich.edu/~ece/student_projects/beggars_opera/theater.html http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199642229.do#.UMlxBKk1ZFI https://sites.google.com/site/thebeggarsoperaandprostitution/ http://suite101.com/article/class-and-gender-in-the-beggars-opera-a129730
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