Based on The Beggar's Opera, The Threepenny Opera, a comedic musical, offers a critique of the capitalist system. Macheath, a well-known criminal, marries Polly Peachum, whose father is in charge of the beggars of London. Peachum isn't happy with the marriage and attempts to have Macheath arrested and executed. The musical explores the conflict between classes, with Peachum's team of beggars gaming the system to get money from the more well-off and Macheath dreaming of a bourgeois life, although he's a criminal.
All the King's Men is a political thriller and a powerfully symbolic tale about action, consequence, and political cynicism. Jack Burden, strong right arm of populist politician Willie Stark, whose nature as a cynical manipulator of the masses emerges over the course of the story until his career is cut short by assassination. The story deals heavily with a worldview Stark calls The Great Twitch, a nihilistic theory that all action is meaningless because human biology dictates behavior.