The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera Summary and Analysis of Scene 2

Scene Two (Act One)

In the heart of Soho, Macheath and his gang have taken over a stable. Polly enters in a wedding dress and complains about the fact that it is stable rather than a fine building. One of Mac's gang, Matthew, tells Mac that this is the most daring "job" he has ever pulled, referring to the fact that Mac has stolen Polly from her parents. Polly complains again about the fact that are going to get married in a stable; she is further upset about the fact that Mac does not own the place.

Mac tells her that she will have everything she needs. A van pulls up outside the stable and the gang enters with lots of furniture, dishes and carpets. They transform the room and congratulate Polly and Mac on the pending marriage even while they describe the people they had to kill in order to steal the stuff. Mac insults them all, calling them cannibals for having killed people in order to get the stuff. Polly bursts into tears over the fact that people had to die in order to make her wedding pleasant. Mac meanwhile complains that the stuff is junk and that there are no chairs.

Polly, realizing that the gang has tried to make everything nice, starts to defend them from Mac's insults. They cut off the legs of harpsicord to turn it into a bench. While the men go to change into more formal wear, Polly worries what will happen if the Sheriff walks in and arrests them all since all the goods have been stolen. Mac tells her not to worry. The men return wearing fashionable evening dress, but their movements are not in keeping with it.

Matthew then congratulates the couple on behalf of the entire gang. He makes a sexual joke at the end and Mac knocks him to the floor, telling him to watch his language. Matthew gets angry and reveals that Lucy told him some of the filthy things Mac used to say to her. Mac only stares at him, causing the other men to quickly pull him away. They give the couple some presents, including a large grandfather clock. After the presents, they sit down to eat.

Mac yells at them for starting to eat before providing any sort of entertainment. He asks them to sing a song, but they refuse. One of them inadvertantly mentions Lucy again, causing Polly to ask Mac who Lucy is. The other men quickly avoid the topic and Mac orders one of them to guard the door. The man soon returns claiming the cops are there, but it is Reverend Kimball instead.

Mac makes the men sing a song and they do, but it is a song about a couple who get married without knowing who they are marrying and then the wife sleeps around. The men sing without much enthusiasm and Mac yells at them when it is over. Polly then comes forward and performs the "Pirate Jenny" song, a song about a wash-girl who is ignored by society. One day pirates arrive and take over the town. Jenny is placed in command and she orders the pirates to kill everyone.

Mac calls the song art but is not thrilled with Polly acting in front of the men. The Sheriff arrives, a man named Tiger Brown, causing the men to hide. Mac greets him like an old friend and introduces all of his men to Brown. They are frightened, having been to jail before in their lives, and are unsure of whether to trust Brown. Mac explains that he and Tiger Brown served in India together and have remained good friends ever since, with Mac giving Brown a kickback on whatever he steals. The two friends sing a "Cannon Song" about the war and then Tiger Brown says that he must get back to work in order to prepare for the Queen's Coronation.

The gang has one final surprise for Polly and Mac, a full bed that they have concealed in the room behind a carpet wallhanging. The men leave after Mac thanks them and he and Polly start to sentimentalize. However, instead of being sentimental, their words imply that they are not legally wed, everything was stolen, and their love may or may not endure.


Much the way the first scene introduces Mac's "white kid gloves" in order to cover his bloody hands, this scene introduces the furniture into a stable. By transforming the stable into an exaggeratedly luxurious room, Brecht again is using bourgeois articles to hide the murders and thefts. The use of furniture is paralleled by the gang in suits, a comic image since they do not have the right manners. Thus we again see bloody deeds and bloody people parading around as if they were common, normal members of the successful society.

Implicit in this wedding scene is the irony that Mac is probably already married. Mac himself foreshadows the fact that he is already married: "For once I'm having a wedding, and how often does that happen? Shut up, Dreary!" He cuts his men off before one of them can say something to get him in trouble. There are two further slips of the tongue when the men reveal that Mac has a past history with a girl named Lucy, causing Polly to finally ask who Lucy is.

The songs in Brecht deserve some discussion because they are as famous as the play itself. Often they serve to break up the action and cause the audience to become unattached from the characters. This is evident in the first scene where Mr. and Mrs. Peachum sing a song under spotlight which has nothing to do with their real characters. This shifts slightly when Polly sings her "Pirate Jenny" song. The song has two interpretations: it can be seen as an analogy for Polly's own life, in that she is rescued by the thieves from her family of beggars, similar to the wash-girl getting rescued by pirates. It also has an interpretation based on Low-Dive Jenny, a prostitute who will later betray Mac. Jenny is unwilling to betray him but is pressured by Mrs. Peachum, who convinces her to take money. In Jenny's case she is also hoping to get saved by Mac's gang, but knows that she will not be; she therefore is willing to take money and turn Mac in.