Lit108 assessment item 2
1. The Beggar in The Beggar’s Opera says: “Had the Play remained, as I at first intended, it would have carried a most excellent Moral. ’Twould have shown that the lower sort of people have their vices in a degree as well as the rich: and that they are punished for them.”
Consider the Beggar’s statement in the context of the play as a whole.
The Play, The Beggars Opera by Gay, explores themes of vice, virtue and social monarchy, Gay using theatrical satire to make a mockery of these through a topsy-turvy world dominated by money and power. The Beggars statement in the play: “Had the Play remained, as I at first intended, it would have carried a most excellent Moral. ’Twould have shown that the lower sort of people have their vices in a degree as well as the rich: and that they are punished for them.” Suggesting that the lower sort of people were punished for the same vices a higher sort of man was rewarded for. This notion can be demonstrated through the immoral characters of the Peachum’s, the protagonist Macheath and the roles they play within society. Comment by asegal: This is a puzzling term in this context: “anarchy” would be less puzzling perhaps. Comment by asegal: Not a sentence. Comment by asegal: Missing apostrophe. Comment by asegal: It may be going a little too far to say that the statement suggests that the rich are rewarded for their vices; it would be safer to say that it suggests that the rich are not punished for their vices in the same way that the poor are. Comment by asegal: Omit apostrophe.
Gay uses the reoccurring motif of a backwards, convoluted world to depict the relativity of vice and virtue; All men within the play are equalised by their common vice, they are separated however in their social standing, this determining the perception of their misdeeds, even allowing them to be perceived as virtuous. Gay demonstrates this predominantly through the control money has in the play and the actions the characters take into order to gain their wealth. Those who hold the money hold the power and so although all men follow the path of corruption, it is only the lower class of people that get punished for it. As stated by Dianne Dugaw in ‘“Deep Play”: John Gay and the Invention of Modernity’, “The poor are punished with hanging and transportation, only one of a range of discomfiting ironies Gays reverberating moral/mock moral contains” Comment by asegal: in Comment by asegal: The way you quote Dugaw here does not make clear enough to your reader what is the irony that Dugaw has in mind. The irony is that although the beggar’s statement emphasises “the mirroring of rich and poor”, the statement in passing as it were evokes a way in which this mirroring does not pertain. Comment by asegal: Use lower-case
Peachum is the epitome of this warped perception of vice and virtue, driven entirely by the pursuit of money and self-gain and drawing the entirety of his power from the ability to perform...