Comparison of john gay's "beggars opera" to musical "chicago"

Essay by crkttUniversity, Bachelor'sA, May 2003

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"The Beggars Opera" vs. "Chicago"

When you are in the checkout line at your local grocery store, which tabloid do you unadmittedly find yourself drawn to? When you sit down at night, which reality series or T.V. drama do you watch? How come shows like The Soprano's and oz win Emmy's and bring in millions of dollars for HBO? We all undoubtedly indulge ourselves with the sins that we claim to ignore.

Ever since the beginning of time, society has been quietly amused with the underbelly of society. Some people openly admit to their flair for the dramatic while others keep their fascination in the closet. Two authors that obviously drew upon higher society's obsession with the lower class for their works are John Gay and Maurine Dallas Watkins. Both authors mock the upper class by glorifying the rouges in society in their musical pieces, The Beggars Opera and Chicago .

John Gay opens his opera with the quote Nos haec novimus esse nihil ( We know these things to be nothing). By using this quote Gay is making a statement about the quality of his opera. He exclaims that the contents of this opera may be considered trivial and audacious, yet you will still enjoy every bit of it. Gay is satirizing the public's preoccupation with the seamier side of life and their total denial of it's draw. Gay makes his point by making the narrator of his opera a beggar. Most of society would view this figure as simple and unrefined, yet he is obviously educated in the art of opera. This makes the statement that, though common, the beggar meets the standards of the audience.

As inspiration for their characters, Gay and Watkins draw upon real people. Not only are they current figures, but...