Scene Eight (Act Three)
Polly takes a risk and visits Lucy in her home. She apologizes for the way she acted and comments that it is obvious that Mac loves Lucy more. Polly then explains that she had only known Macheath for five days before she married him. Every time Lucy nods in agreement and calls her "Miss Peachum", Polly corrects her and makes her say "Mrs. Macheath". Polly then comments that Mac felt no regret when her mother made her leave him. She asks Lucy for advice, but Lucy tells her she should have stuck with her own class of people.
Polly agrees that she should have done everything as if it were a business transaction. However, Lucy does admit that at least Polly is Macheath's wife on paper, even if not in spirit. She brings Polly some cake and tea and Polly looks around the apartment. Finally Polly reveals that the reason she came was to find out where Macheath is staying. Lucy claims she does not know and that she thought Polly would know. Polly bursts out laughing while Lucy cries when they both realize that Mac has stood them both up.
Lucy then admits to Polly that her pregnancy is all fake. Polly laughs even more and promises to give her Mac if he is ever found. There is a noise on the stairs and they realize that Mac has been caught again. Mrs. Peachum enters with widow's clothing and makes Polly change into it for the hanging.
Polly's motives for visiting with Lucy are two-fold: she wants to ascertain where Macheath is staying and she wants to evaluate her competition. The fact that she apologizes when we know that she really hates Lucy shows her willingness to be a hypocrit. Ironically, it is Lucy that she brands, "the hypocritical strumpet" rather than herself.
Lucy brings up the issue of class for the first time in the play. "You should have stuck to your own class of people, dear Miss." Lucy is implying that Polly married outside of her own class. The question then is which direction did she marry, up or down? The answer is not obvious because her parents are actually in a similar profession to that of Macheath. However, Polly clearly interprets it as meaning that she married down. She elevates herself into the business class by stating, "I should have kept everything on a strict business footing." This line has another meaning, though. It serves to accuse the bourgeois class, i.e. the business class, of being unemotional and marrying only for money.
This falseness of love and marriage is dealt with throughout the scene. Lucy admits that she lied about being pregnant and shows Polly the cushion. At the end, Mrs. Peachum has the gall to enter and make Polly dress as a widow before Macheath is even dead. This brutal disruption of the sentimental interaction between Lucy and Polly serves to again make the audience feel less pity for Polly. The image of her as a sad, broken wife does not hold very long either; when Mac asks her for money in the last scene she is brilliantly evasive, implying that she has taken over his business and kept the money.