The Malthusian Theory of Population is a theory of
exponential population growth and arithmetic food supply growth. Thomas
Robert Malthus, an English cleric, and scholar published this theory in
his 1798 writings, An Essay on the Principle of Population.
In “Urinetown”, Becky Two-Shoes represents
the population explosion. And Caldwell B. Cladwell, by creating then
capitalising on a water shortage, is adopting Malthusian techniques allied with
straightforward greed, to control – or oppress the lower classes.
Malthus argued that because the population of the world is
growing faster than our ability to produce food, many people will starve. The
world might even be destroyed.
He observed that natural and man-made disasters would help
population control, but controversially he also advocated using preventative
measures to control the growth of the population. These measures include contraception,
late marriages, and celibacy.
As Little Sally observes, although the music of “Urinetown” is happy – this is not a
happy musical! The poor have few morals or scruples either. They are happy to
kill for immediate gratification.
Only one character, Hope Cladwell has learned moral outrage
(at University) and she convinces Bobby Strong to start the revolution. Unusually
for a musical, even the hero dies! “Hail Malthus!”