The Rake's Progress Synopsis

Act 1

The plan has failed - the act starts with the auction of the ruined Tom's property by the maniac auctioneer Sellem. The objects for sale include Baba, who has remained immobile since being silenced by the wig. When unwrapped, she resumes her tantrum, now directed at the auction-goers for disturbing her belongings, but calms down when Anne enters. Baba advises her to find Tom and "set him right", and warns her against Nick Shadow. She announces her intent to return to her life on the stage. In a graveyard, Nick reveals his identity and demands payment from Tom, in the form of his soul; but as midnight strikes, Nick offers him an escape in the form of a game of cards, which Tom wins, thanks to the benign influence of Anne. Defeated, Nick sinks into the ground, condemning Tom to insanity as he goes. Consigned to Bedlam, Tom believes he is Adonis. Anne ("Venus") visits him, sings him to sleep, then quietly leaves him. When he realizes she has gone, he dies. In an epilogue, the principal characters point out the simple moral: that the Devil finds work for idle hands.