John Gay: Beggar’s Opera
Prompt 1: In The Beggar’s Opera, romanticism is a resource only for those who know nothing of reality. The play itself moves from benign to vicious images, from unself-conscious, romantic, and conventional to a more cynical and analytical use of the same sort of material. At first, Polly epitomizes ignorance and innocence. As the play progresses, do you feel she changes? Why or why not?
Prompt 2: The outlaw gang are men who risk their lives for what they get. They depend upon each other for their safety, and their dependence builds a loyalty beyond the appeal of interest. How might you compare the outlaw gang in The Beggar’s Opera to that of the chivalric code? Does Gay give the reader a different understanding of the hypocrisies of the aristocratic 18th century gentleman, parodied by the outlaw gang? How has the gentleman changed from the “chivalric knight” to the modern aristocrat? Do you feel something is lost in this transition from earlier fiction we have read?