Quote 2

“Some read the Bible; others take a Law Degree / Some join the Church and some attack the State / While some remove the celery from their plate / And then devise a theory. / By evening all are busy moralizing / But when the night is falling, they are rising.”

When Mrs. Peachum sings these verses in “The Ballad of Sexual Submissiveness,” in the interlude before Act II, scene I, she claims that when people are faced with trouble, they will not give up their habits or physical urges like sex. She reveals that she knows only one way to approach and apprehend the elusive master criminal, Macheath—to find him at the brothel he cannot abandon, even when he is being hunted. By enlisting the help of Jenny in her quest to find Macheath, Mrs. Peachum implies that the power of seduction is far greater than the power of the police department. Mrs. Peachum also knows that Jenny will accept money in return for betraying Macheath. Her mention of “some remove the celery from their plate,” displays another distinction between different types of people. Bible reading and celery removal are thus seen comparably hollow pursuits. Mrs. Peachum points out just how false this notion is by stating, outright, that the men who pray by day are the ones clamoring for sexual gratification at night. Brecht’s bawdy lyrics make her case.