Essay on Business Ethics and Sexual Ethics

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In the Beggars Opera, the author, Gay, clearly ensures the interrelation between Sexual ethics and business. The author illustrates how those who are promiscuous like Macheath tend to link business with sex. For instance, we see that Macheath has two wives and more than a dozen children with different women, we also see that he is involved with prostitutes on countless scenarios and that he justifies all this to the fact that he has money and is thus powerful. In other words, criminal activities (read business activities) are in this mock Opera are all linked to self-interest. No marriage reflected in the Opera is hinged on love, rather it is all hinged on the love of money, wealth and treasures and are all a form of business aimed at gaining the wealth and money ("Self-interest as a motive in The Beggars Opera," 2013). In this document, the relationship between business and sexual ethics will be explored as they are reflected by Gay in the Beggars Opera.

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As mentioned, Macheaths life is majorly hinged around women and money; he loves sex so much that it is part of his business. For instance, we see him confess his great love for women; he says I love the sex. And a man who loves money might as well be contented with one guinea, as I with one woman I must have women. There is nothing that unbends the mind like them. ("Act I. John Gay. 1922. The Beggar's Opera", 2016, Act 2, scene 3). This evidently shows how business and sex ethics are mixed up. In relation to this fact, it is only inevitable that most of the women Macheath is entangled with are only after his finances; marriage is like a business to them.

A good example of women after Macheaths money are the prostitutes with whom he plays. More interestingly, Peachum knows that Macheath is a man of many women and thus devices his apprehension using what Macheath loves most, women. Notably, most of the women in Peachums gang are women. The women act as Peachums informers and can be termed as double-dealers in that they are mostly Macheaths companions. Women such as Jenny, Betty, Mrs. Vixen, Dolly, Mrs. Slammekin, Suky and Molly. are all women in Peachums gang but also Macheaths companion.

In other words, sex is a major weapon that Peachum uses to bring down Macheath. For example, Jenny and Suky device with Peachum to entrap Macheath. Mrs. Coaxer, also a companion to Macheath and at the same time a member of Peachums gang is the client with whom Macheath is with when he is apprehended. In another instance, Jenny and other ladies are seen to sexually lure Macheath into being apprehended by the constables in Act II scene 5. At this instance, Peachum says that the greatest heroes have been ruined by women as he alludes to the way Jenny and the ladies help take Macheath down ("Act I. John Gay. 1922. The Beggar's Opera", 2016, Act 2, scene 5). As can be seen therefore, the business rivalry between the two cartels uses sex as the main tool to bring each other down. Their business does not run without sex.

In light of marriage, women are mainly involved with men in light of them being an investment or a financial profit. Virginity is seen as a currency to bring money to the woman and her parents (family). In the Opera, Air VI, virgins are likened with a fair Flower in its Lustre around which bees and butterflies flutter, frolick and cluster ("Act I. John Gay. 1922. The Beggar's Opera", 2016). When the flower is plucked, it no longer is alluring and is rots and dies as it is trod on by people and animals. Therefore, virginity (sex) is valued so much as a form of currency (business) to attract men. This is clearly illustrated by how Peachum reacts to the idea that his daughter Polly has secretly taken up with Macheath. Peachum is outraged and calls the move by his daughter a fool for having fallen into the marriage trap of Macheath. Peachum says to his daughter I am not against your toying and trifling with a customer in the way of Business, or to get out a secret, or so. But if I find out that you have played the fool and are married Ill cut your throat. ("Act I. John Gay. 1922. The Beggar's Opera", 2016, Act 1 Scene 7) From all these, marriage in the Beggars Opera is supposed to be hinged around self-interest for both men and women. The men are in it for sex and the gains of pleasure whereas the women are in it for financial benefits. Pollys parents have the notion that their daughter only got married to Macheath for the financial profit ("Self-interest as a motive in The Beggars Opera," 2013). Polly was in it for love, but Macheath was in it for pleasure.

Mrs. Peachum admits to the fact that marriage is for the financial profit to his husband after they talk with Polly about her marriage to Macheath. She says, the sex is frail. But the first time a woman is weak, she should be somewhat nice methinks, for then or never is the time to make her fortune. ("Act I. John Gay. 1922. The Beggar's Opera", 2016, Act 1 Scene 8). This confirms the association with marriage as a means of getting fortune while providing sex and pleasure to the man. It can be taken as a form of business between married couples. Even more to this fact, in the Beggars Opera the marriage business is not only limited to one man but the man and woman are free to share sex under their own pleasure for money.

Lucy, a daughter to the jailer Lockit, is another major example of a woman who takes marriage as a source of fortune. Through the sexual pleasure, she provides her husband with, she expects to one day reap from her husbands death. Lucy is sure that Macheath, her husband, will fall soon from the business but she is sure that as a wife, his fall will be her gain. Though she is a jilted ex-lover, Lucy persistently strives to get win Macheath back even at Pollys expense. Macheath is aware of this but he delights in his own self-interest to call whatever he wants marriage so far as it fulfills his desires and that is why he marries Lucy initially. Notably, Macheath says in Act 2 that, What signifies a promise to a woman? Does not marriage itself promise a hundred things that he never means to perform? Do all we can; women will believe us; for they look upon a promise as an excuse for their own inclinations. ("Act I. John Gay. 1922. The Beggar's Opera", 2016, Act 2 Scene 8).

Focusing on Peachum, at the beginning of the play, he is set out to help Betty Sly escape deportation to the colonies. Peachum having many connections with the law enforcements chooses to reprieve her in exchange for a 40 sterling pounds reward. Notably, Peachum says something that hints out that they, the statesmen and the business men do business for the gain of it through sex and money from the women. Filch is also seen to sell the same idea of the womans utility. At the moment they discuss Betty with Peachum, Filch says in Air II, she tricks us of our money with our hearts For suits of love, like law, are won by pay, and beauty must be feed into our arms. ("Act I. John Gay. 1922. The Beggar's Opera", 2016, Act 1 Scene 2). This signifies the extent to which money and business are linked to sex within the Beggars Opera. It shows that even the law enforcers are caught up in the business of letting criminals slip from the hand of justice in exchange for having sexual favors.

Finally, when Peachum adds Bob Booty to the blacklist, he sees him as a threat to business due to his excessive love for women. Peachum says to his wife concerning Booty, he spends his life among women, and as soon as his money is gone, one or other of the ladies will hang him for the reward, and there are forty pounds lost to us forever. ("Act I. John Gay. 1922. The Beggar's Opera", 2016, Act 1 Scene 4). This is a clear illustration of how much sex affects business in the Beggars Opera. Peachum hints out the fact that sex (women) will be the cause of fall for Bob Booty which will affect the business they are engaged in.

There is a lot of sex associated with business in the Beggars Opera. The criminal and the law enforcers are all involved in unfair deals for sexual favors. Marriages are a form of business in which the man benefits from the pleasure granted to him by his wife while the wife reaps financial benefits from the marriage. Further, the sexual companions are in the business of reaping as much cash as they can from their clients. In other words, sex is a major tool of transacting business in the Beggars Opera. Sex is also a major tool for ensuring the downfall of the business people from business. All these facts and themes boil down to the fact that sex and business in the Beggars Opera are portrayed to be very unethical. It is all about money and business or financial favors. Everyone in the play has hidden agendas of self-interest even as they engage in marriages and friendships. In the real world it is unethical for the men such as Macheath resort to using abusive names on the women and sees them as their disposable properties to use how they please for pleasure but in the play this is portrayed as ethical. The women on the other hand, are engaged in a lustful relationship with the ultimate goal of acquiring wealth which is unethical in the real world but ethical in the in the play.

To sum it all up sex and business ethics are not considered in Gays world; the ethical considerations of both are highly disregarded within the play. Thus, there only exists a symbiotic world in which the men and women conduct business while at the same time having lots of unethical sexual encounters for all the selfish purposes.


Act I. John Gay. 1922. The Beggar's Opera. (2016). Retrieved 25 October 2016, from

Self-interest as a motive in The Beggars Opera. (2013). Restoration and 18th Century Literature and Culture. Retrieved 25 October 2016, from

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