infamous crook known across London for his violent crimes. Nicknamed
“Mackie the Knife,” Macheath is dapper, genteel, and uncharacteristically squeamish
when it comes to blood. He profits from his antiestablishment sensibilities
and from his friendship with the London sheriff, Tiger Brown.
in-depth analysis of Macheath.
Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum
The proprietor of “The Beggar’s Friend.” Conniving
and hypocritical, Peachum outfits poor men as panhandlers to evoke
extra sympathy and then demands a percentage of their profits. He
trusts no one, not even his wife and daughter. When he learns that
his daughter, Polly, has married Macheath, he is sure that his new
son-in-law will hurt his business.
wife and Polly’s mother. Celia Peachum is uninterested in her daughter’s
happiness. She faints when she hears the news that her daughter
has married Macheath but only because she feels the effort she put into
her daughter should have yielded a marriage of a higher caliber.
Later, she reveals her sense of feminine wiles and how they triumph
over even the strictest bourgeois morals.
Peachums’ daughter and wife of Macheath. Polly marries Macheath
but leaves his side shortly thereafter, when she learns he is wanted
by the police and must go on the lam. Polly seems innocent, especially
when compared to her conniving parents, but as the play progresses,
she reveals her greedy side.
in-depth analysis of Polly.
Jackie “Tiger” Brown
London’s chief of the police. Brown is as
as the criminals he supposedly battles: He even directly profits
from their crimes. He and Macheath met as fellow soldiers in the
Indian army and have a business deal they both profit from. Brown
is torn between feelings of responsibility for his position and allegiance
to his friend, so he comes across as weak willed and greedy.
of Brown and lover of Macheath. Like Polly and Jenny, Lucy has been
having an affair with Macheath. The mere fact of the relationship
reveals that Macheath has betrayed not only his best friend, Brown,
but also his new wife, Polly. When Lucy learns about Macheath’s
marriage, she reveals that she is pregnant and implores Macheath
to be with her and help take care of their child. However, she later
reveals to Polly that she has simply stuffed a pillow under her dress.
and former love of Macheath. Though she was once in love with Macheath,
she is now one of many prostitutes that live together in the brothel
in Wapping. She still displays affection for the criminal, but she
can now be bought to act as an informant.
constable at the jail. Smith exemplifies the corruption that runs
rampant through the entire police force. Although he arrests Macheath
swiftly, he later accepts the prisoner’s bribe for a more comfortable
pair of handcuffs. When Macheath is arrested the second time, Smith
considers the thousand-pound bribe for Macheath’s release. He later
refuses the offer when neither of Macheath’s henchmen or women can
cough up the sum.
The reverend who appears at Macheath’s wedding celebration
to Polly and later at the gallows. His lines give the impression
that he very well may be a beggar or a thief himself.
of Macheath’s thieves, nicknamed “Money Matthew.” Macheath reprimands
him for taking credit for burning down the children’s hospital when Macheath
is the one who set it on fire.
one of Macheath’s thieves, nicknamed “Hook-Finger Jacob.” He is
the first one of Macheath’s thieves to accidentally reveal that
Macheath has been with another woman.
one of Macheath’s thieves, nicknamed “Robert the Saw.” He joins
the men to set up the stolen wedding breakfast for Macheath and
one of Macheath’s thieves, nicknamed “Wally the Weeper.”
one of Macheath’s thieves.
prostitute Macheath sleeps with and stays with when he escapes from
jail the first time.
beggar whom Peachum enlists as help after Peachum makes him pay
up for illegally pleading for money on his territory. Filch feels
guilty taking money from other people, which is his chief means
of generating income.