Matthew, one of Macheath’s cohorts, enters a stable in Soho. He searches the space with a revolver, and Macheath follows after him. Once Matthew has confirmed that the stable is empty, Polly enters, wearing a wedding dress. Polly is disappointed that they are going to celebrate their marriage in a stable and even more upset to learn they are going to start their new life together with a crime. She appears not to know Macheath very well. Macheath promises that the furnishings will arrive soon.

The other criminals, Jacob, Robert, Walter, and Ed, enter, delivering carpets, furniture, food, and table settings. They excitedly tell Macheath about all the people that were killed or injured in the acquisition of these goods. However, Macheath is disappointed and tells them that they will never be businessmen. Polly is distraught that people have been hurt just to provide for her wedding. Macheath becomes angry not at the fact that people have been hurt but that the stolen goods do not match. He assumes that is why Polly is upset too and assures her not to worry because the priest will be there soon.

The men set up the stable with their takings and reveal their incompetence in stealing furnishings. The furnishings consist of only two chairs, fourteen forks, two knives, and the legs of a harpsichord, which were sawn off to make a bench. Matthew offers his heartfelt congratulations to Macheath and then makes a crude joke to Polly, which causes Macheath to knock him to the ground. Macheath tells him to save his dirty talk for the whore Kitty. Matthew says he would never use filthy language with Kitty, and besides, he has heard about the kind of things that Macheath says to Lucy. This remark is the first reference to Macheath being involved with another woman. Macheath shoots a severe look at Matthew, and the other men separate the two from each other.

The thieves offer their presents to the couple. Macheath is disappointed with each gift, while Polly thinks they are nice. They all sit down to eat, but before they can dig in, Macheath asks his men to sing something “delightful.” Matthew almost chokes with laughter at Macheath’s attempt at high-class language. Then Ed lets another reference to Lucy slip, and this time Polly notices and asks Macheath who she is. Jacob tells Polly not to worry about Lucy, and Matthew gestures to Jacob to not say anything. Polly tries to get more information out of Jacob, but he denies her. Macheath ignores Polly’s questions.

Reverend Kimball arrives, and Macheath calls for a song again. Three of the thieves stand and sing about a couple that marries without really knowing each other at all. Macheath is disgusted and inappropriately calls the song “penurious.” Matthew laughs at this fancy language again, but Polly defuses the situation by offering to sing her own song. She sings “Pirate Jenny,” about a girl who works at a dive bar and is always being teased by the customers about “when her ship will come in.” In the song, the girl patiently does her work and smiles at her dreary circumstances, knowing that one day her pirate husband will pull into the harbor and kill anyone she points at before whisking her away.

The song gets a warm reception all around, but then the police arrive. The men are frightened, yet Macheath greets the sheriff, Tiger Brown, as an old friend. They sing “The Song of the Heavy Cannon” about their service in the army in India together. Then Macheath raves about how close he and Brown are. Macheath explains that every time Macheath steals something, he gives Brown a slice. Every time Brown makes a raid, he tips off Macheath in advance. As he speaks, Macheath notices Brown sadly staring at the carpet. Brown notices the rug is from the Oriental Carpet Company, and Macheath, like a savvy shopper, smoothes over the situation by acting like a frequent customer of the store. Brown mentions how concerned he is about the queen’s coronation. Macheath tells Brown that he is sure Peachum has it in for him and checks with Brown that his record at Scotland Yard is clean. Brown assures him that his record is clear and then exits. Macheath’s men reveal their special present, a big bed for the new couple. The men exit, leaving Macheath and Polly alone. They speak a short stretch of verse about how the circumstances of their love do not matter.


A few of the play’s conflicts begin to unfold in these scenes. Polly does not really know the man she is marrying. The man she fell in love was proper and well-off in society, implying his position in public by taking Polly and her mother to the Octopus Hotel and wearing white kid gloves. The fact that Polly is appalled by the crimes around her shows that Macheath has lied to her about his true character. Macheath’s dishonesty with Polly shows that he is as untrustworthy in matters of love as he is in matters of business. However, Polly’s willingness to accept his criminality because she loves him shows just how strongly she feels about him. Another conflict is Macheath’s knowledge that Peachum may be after him. He anticipates the consequences of marrying Polly because he thinks Peachum will not approve of her marriage to a criminal. Also, the friendship between Macheath and Brown implies a conflict, and a complicity, between the law and crime.

This scene presents Macheath as a full-fledged character. Macheath has only been portrayed through song and through the Peachums’ terror at his name. Here in the stable, he embodies a lower-class crook with upwardly mobile aspirations. When his thieves bring him wedding presents to furnish the stable, Macheath’s anger is directed at the lack of style the men have shown in choosing the goods. Because Macheath often portrays himself as an upper-class citizen, he desires a classy wedding, just like the kind he imagines the upper classes have. In ranting at his men, though, Macheath also demonstrates that he does not actually know anything about being upper class. When he asks them to sing a “delightful” song, the chuckle from Matthew indicates that he and other thieves are not used to Macheath using such fancy words. Later, Macheath’s incorrect usage of the word penurious shows how hard he is trying to be a classier guy. Likewise, Macheath demands better table manners from the thieves he employs. Macheath’s appreciation of furniture and rugs purposefully mimics the way that consumer classes talk about objects. He also only “shops” at the finest carpet stores, and he appreciates, or tries to appreciate, the differences between certain types of furniture. Like most consumers, he does not care where his goods come from; he only cares about the quality. Macheath’s concern for better table manners and fine things demonstrates that crooks and those who do not commit crime are not always so different from one another.

Polly’s interaction with Macheath’s criminals ultimately displays the criminals as the good guys in The Threepenny Opera. At first Polly is shocked and upset by the stealing and murders that the crooks committed in order to celebrate her wedding. She represents a poor girl who does not realize what she has gotten herself into. However, a bond of sympathy is created between Polly and the criminals when she sees what they went through to make sure she had a nice wedding breakfast. She continues to warm up to them when they give her wedding gifts. As she becomes accustomed to the situation and as the humor mounts, she sees that the thieves are decent people after all. She eventually even takes responsibility for the party being a success by singing the boisterous and funny “Pirate Jenny.” The song, with its tale of vengeance at the hands of a sweetly demure girl, shows that Polly has a tougher side as well, which will emerge more fully as the play progresses. In this scene, Polly’s function is to be complicit in enjoying a life of crime.

The ending of the scene is an important example of the alienation effect. Here, the expectation is that Macheath and Polly will have a tender moment alone together. The first part of the verse they sing is a sweet description of their inability to ignore the circumstances of their love. But the last two lines state that the consequences of their love do not matter, a sentiment that pulls them out of their situation and calls into question whether their love is real. These are not lines that the characters would logically speak at that moment because they contradict the vows of love that they have sworn to each other. These lines instead function as a commentary on the action. As such, the verses of the song force the question of whether the love between Macheath and Polly is real. This question of the mutual love between Macheath and Polly creates alienation in the audience. The actual lines of the song challenge the audience’s expectation of how Macheath and Polly feel toward each other.