Study Guide

The Threepenny Opera ACT I, Scene 1

By Bertolt Brecht

ACT I, Scene 1

To combat the increasing callousness of mankind, J. Peachum, a man of business, has opened a shop where the poorest of the poor can acquire an exterior that will touch the hardest of hearts.

  • Jonathan Peachum sings his morning hymn, and then explains to the audience that his business is to make up ways for beggars to look even sadder, so they can make more money.
  • A young man named Filch comes in and asks to join the beggars' network. Peachum lets him buy in so he can beg on a certain block. He sells Filch a costume of rags.
  • Mrs. Celia Peachum helps out with the fitting and mentions that their daughter, Polly, would like to get married to a nice guy who's been coming around.
  • Peachum is upset by the prospect and tells his wife that the boyfriend is the notorious criminal Mac the Knife.
  • They run up to look for Polly, but she hasn't been home all night.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Peachum sing a song about how love ends badly.