The Beggar’s Opera’s Shitty Marginalia

The Beggar’s Opera’s Shitty Marginalia

Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera is kind of a big deal. Sort of kicked off the ballad opera as well as nine years of theatrical experimentation and political satire, basically was a scathing critique of corruption and particularly in the Walpole administration, and happened to inspire Brecht’s Threepenny Opera–you know, among other things like that. Oh, and it’s fucking hilarious and eminently quotable; from Lockit’s “Of all animals of prey, man is the only sociable one” to the Beggar’s “[The ending] 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,” there are just endless witty lines equating criminals and whores with gentlemen and ladies.

So then why would you underline, of all the notable lines you could have highlighted, this one: “Captain Macheath is worth money”?? You know, it’s not a hard plot to grasp, but even if it was, really? That’s not even a plot point! It’s just something someone said! “Captain Macheath is worth money”! There are only, like,  seven underlined sentences in this whole fucking play! Have some pride in your marginalia!

“Captain Macheath is worth money.” You say it enough and it takes on a “where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?” quality, except it’s just a big stupid nothing. “Captain Macheath is worth money.” Cripes.


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