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Instead of being hanged, however, the playwright steps on to the stage and proclaims a reprieve at the last moment, saving the heroic highwayman from the gallows. A lawyer is an honest employment, so is mine. Widely viewed as corrupt, even though nobody ever managed to trace any particular frauds or embezzlements to him, to satirists in the eighteenth century he represented all that was wrong with the ruling aristocratic oligarchy. During the Victorian period, with the rise of the penny dreadful publishing industry, tales of highwaymen became immensely popular with both adults and youths of the lower middle and working classes.
Dick Turpin —39 appeared regularly in the columns of these cheap magazines, as did older highwaymen such as Robin Hood and the afore-mentioned Jack Sheppard.
The actual stories differed little from other contemporary tales of highwaymen, being mostly full of daring adventures, escapes from the police, and the rescue of young maidens from aristocratic villains. This comes through most clearly in the song entitled Die Moritat von Mackie Messer , sung usually at the beginning of the play, which is the song we all know as Mack the Knife :. Eventually Mack is arrested and is taken to be hanged, but at the last minute a pardon arrives from Queen Victoria for him.
He is released and is soon elevated to a Baronetcy, the implication being that he can now steal from people legally because he is a member of the aristocracy. Through this means, Brecht, a socialist, offers a critique of the corruption endemic in the modern capitalist city in which thieves are no better than the elites, which is a similar argument to that made by Gay almost two centuries before. We see a slight return in these later songs to a friendlier portrayal of Macheath, such as that contained in the Bobby Darin lyrics:.
It appears that there are still heavy penalties for those who cross his path, but at least he does not rape women or burn whole families alive in their houses. Mackie traces the emergence of these character types to the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when traditional aristocratic authority was increasingly challenged.
She argues that the development of the modern polite gentleman as a male archetype can only be fully comprehended when considered alongside figures of fallen nobility, which, although criminal, were also glamorous enough to reinforce the same ideological order. In Evelina's Lord Orville, Clarissa's Lovelace, Rookwood's Dick Turpin, and Caleb Williams's Falkland, Mackie reads the story of the ideal gentleman alongside that of the outlaw, revealing the parallel lives of these seemingly contradictory characters. Synthesizing the histories of masculinity, manners, and radicalism, Rakes, Highwaymen, and Pirates offers a fresh perspective on the eighteenth-century aristocratic male.
Toon meer Toon minder. Recensie s The book impresses with its attentive close readings of important texts and makes a valuable contribution to gender studies of eighteenth-century Britain.
Pirates - Subject of the Month - Research Guides at Wayne State University
A richly rewarding volume that gains more than a little residual glamour from its popular subjects. The strength of the text, though, is in Mackie's incisive questioning of that glamour. This is not, finally, a book about pirates or highwaymen, or rakes so much as it is a study of our fascination with them. Situated at the nexus of gender theory and literary studies, her book adds to the study of modern and late modern cultural norms of gender and sexuality through discourse analysis of literary and nonliterary texts.
Studies of female types have proliferated in recent years, and it is refreshing to see attention paid to the divisions among men in the eighteenth century.
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