Peachum, a thief catcher, deplores the fact that his daughter Polly is marrying the famous highwayman, Macheath. He arranges for Macheath to be arrested and imprisoned at the prison run by the corrupt wardon, Lockit. Macheath tries to escape by enlisted the help of Lockit's daughter Lucy and promising to marry her. His plan is complicated when Polly comes to try and save him. Thus, Lucy and Polly end up in an inevitable rivalry. Right before Macheath is to be hanged, the Beggar (who narrates the opera) is persuaded by the player to provide a happier ending.