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Assessment of Men and Desire in The Beggar's Opera Though set in the underworld of thievery, John Gay's The Beggar's Opera codifies a set of Marxist sex politics in which union stands as the wonderful equalizer of desire and power. A frequently aphoristic summary of the conventional power struggle between men and women frames a world in which marriage lowers the wooer's appetite but raises his power by an equivalent amount through ownership for a husband. This commodity fetishism of this wife spurs, consequently, the external desire of possible suitors, restoring balance to the scales of eros. I will argue that Macheath's ultimate capture (disregarding his short escape and ironically crowd-pleasing twist-ending) stems from the complications his insatiable desire, at the expense of an all-consuming greed, introduces to some capitalistic society based on indirectly equitable gender relations. Although the opera contains stereotypical ratings of sought-after virgins, Gay moves past this pat system by exploring the origin of their appeal in monetary conditions. Air V, sung by Mrs. Peachum, equates the virgin with raw, yet to be redeemed substance: "A maid is similar to the golden ore, / Which hath guineas intrinsical In't, / Whose worth is never known before / It is tried and impressed at the Mint" (I.v). Note the seeming contradiction because "attempted" means "elegant" or "purified"; the virgin has to experience some type of transmutation as she's debauched. The money conceit, which ribbons throughout the entire year, here is an illustration of exactly what Marx calls the use-value of the item, which is, basically, "[T]he utility of something" (Marx 421). The virgin is precious, and her use-value high, because she possesses a heretofore unknown sexual utility. W.. .