'Let Us Take the Road': The Beggar's Opera and its Criminal Law Context

Internationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2005

See all articles by Ian Gallacher

Ian Gallacher

Syracuse University - College of Law

Abstract

The Beggar's Opera is a work studied for its political satire, its importance as a progenitor of musical forms from the singspiel to the Broadway musical, and even its possible interpretation as a metaphor for the "Christian myth." But this seemingly simple, if cynical, tale of love and betrayal in the criminal underworld of 1728 London has not previously been studied for the insights it can offer into the relationship between law and society in early Hanoverian England. This paper uses the play's plot as a point of departure to study some aspects of crime and punishment. Using contemporary sources to supplement, and correct, the play's portrayal of crimes, criminals, and the criminal justice system of the time, the paper concludes that the play offers a valuable view of criminal life in Eighteenth Century London.

Keywords: Legal history, criminal law, law and humanities

JEL Classification: K14, K39

Suggested Citation

Gallacher, Ian, 'Let Us Take the Road': The Beggar's Opera and its Criminal Law Context. Internationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=795546

Ian Gallacher (Contact Author)

Syracuse University - College of Law ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244-1030
United States

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