Macheath, called Mac the Knife, the head of a gang of petty criminals in London. He manages his crooked affairs through “understandings” with Sheriff Brown. An incorrigible philanderer, he is involved with Brown’s daughter, Lucy, but also entices Polly, the daughter of “Beggar Boss” Peachum, into matrimony. This act outrages Peachum, who vows to undo Macheath by working a deal with Sheriff Brown. Mac’s enemies are convinced that, even when warned that a plot has been hatched against him, he will not flee far; soon, he is caught while making his habitual turn among the harlots of Turnbridge. Because Mac is an inveterate wheeler and dealer, however, he is able to bribe his way out of the charges and even to obtain recognition for service to the crown.
Jonathan Jeremiah “Beggar Boss” Peachum
Jonathan Jeremiah “Beggar Boss” Peachum, the proprietor of Beggar’s Friend, Ltd. He organizes London’s beggars quarter by quarter, giving them territories and pitiful roles to play. Although Peachum himself is an obvious opportunist, the destitute figures under him provide a channel to convey the social revolutionary theme of the play. Peachum is distracted from organizing an unprecedented parade of beggars at Queen Victoria’s coronation by the troublesome scandal of his daughter’s marriage to Mac. A mixture of opportunism and pomposity is revealed in Peachum, whose concern over the poor focuses mainly on how to use them to his benefit.
Polly Peachum, the daughter of Jonathan Peachum....
(The entire section is 654 words.)