Quote 3

“You may proclaim, good sirs, your fine philosophy / But till you feed us, right and wrong can wait! / Or is it only those who have the money / Can enter in the land of milk and honey?”

These lyrics are from the Act II finale, which Macheath sings with Jenny. Jenny has just betrayed Macheath, even though Macheath and Jenny were once lovers. This song, like the others, alienates the audience from the plot by mentioning larger social ills. It destroys the fantasy of being in the theater by reminding the audience of issues happening beyond the theater’s walls. The implication of the song’s lyrics is that the upper classes have the luxury of considering morality, while the poor are reduced to striving toward more primary goals, such as food and shelter. It is fitting that the play’s two lead criminals sing this song. Jenny dismisses potential judgments from the bourgeois audience, or from people like Peachum, who might look down on her because of her vocation. She tells simply that she’d be willing to consider a seemingly insignificant cause like morality once she had something to eat.