A resident of Windsor, Mistress Ford is married to Ford and is a friend of Mistress Page. When she and Mistress Page receive a seductive letter from Falstaff, they decide to lead him on and ruin him. In the meantime, Mistress Ford hopes to prove to her husband that she is entirely faithful, so that he will get over his oppressive jealousy.
A resident of Windsor, Mistress Page is married to Page and is a friend of Mistress Ford. When she and Mistress Ford receive a seductive letter from Falstaff, they decide to lead him on and ruin him. Meanwhile, Mistress Page and her husband disagree about who should marry their daughter, Anne Page. She favors Caius, but her husband favors Slender; Anne herself likes neither. However, both must learn the lesson to listen to the romantic desires of their daughter.
Falstaff is a knight, but he is also a scoundrel and occasionally a thief. In
Henry IV, Part I
, he was a drinking buddy of the young Prince Henry. Falstaff is boisterous, lively, cowardly, funny, and mischievous; he is one of Shakespeare's most beloved creations, appearing in several of his plays. In Wives,
outside his element in the countryside, Falstaff thinks he can get away with seducing married women in order to gain access to their husbands' cash. Hence he launches a plan to seduce Mistress Page and Mistress Ford. However, they are cleverer than he is and, on three separate occasions, cause him to be humiliated, beaten, or dunked in a river.
Husband of Mistress Ford. Ford is very jealous of his wife. When he learns that Falstaff intends to try to seduce his wife, he is sure she'll fall for Falstaff and shame him. Hence he puts on a disguise, calls himself Brooke, and goes to the Garter Inn to find out about Falstaff's plans and his wife's responses. During the play, he must learn to let go of his jealousy, which he eventually manages to do.
Husband of Mistress Page. Page is not jealous of his wife, so when he hears about Falstaff's plan, he doesn't think she's likely to find Falstaff interesting. In comparison to Ford, his easygoing attitude makes him look like a wonderful husband, but he has other problems. He and his wife disagree about who should marry their daughter Anne, and neither are able to choose the suitor she likes, namely Fenton. He must learn that he should listen to his daughter's opinions.
Sir Hugh Evans
Sir Hugh Evans is the local clergyman. He's Welsh, so he speaks in an accent that the other English citizens find very amusing. They make fun of him constantly for it; finally he and Caius band together to humiliate the Host after he makes fools of them.
The local doctor, Caius is Mistress Quickly's master. He is French, so he suffers the same humiliation as Evans because of his accent and broken English. He hopes to marry Anne Page, and Mistress Page favors him, but Page doesn't, and their conflicting schemes--combined with the fact that Anne does not like him--disrupt his marriage plans. He and Evans also make plans to get back at the Host for making fun of them.
Daughter of Page and Mistress Page, Anne is sought for marriage by an array of idiots, including Caius and Slender. Yet she chooses Fenton and tricks her parents by managing to elope with him. She defends her own choice and returns triumphant to show up her parents, who were too busy debating their own preferences to listen to her.
A suitor for Anne Page's hand, Page denies his suit because he fears that Fenton's interest is purely financial, being high-born but poor. Fenton admits he felt this way at first, but once he got to know Anne, he fell in love with her. She likes him best, and the two marry at the end.
The third suitor for Anne Page's hand, Slender is urged on by Shallow, but he is unable to speak anything but nonsense to Anne. Page favors him as a good match for his daughter, but Anne does not, and in the end he doesn't get to marry her.
Shallow is a figure of the law, but nevertheless a foolish character of misplaced authority. He urges Slender to try to seduce Anne Page, even speaking for him at times.
Caius's servant, Mistress Quickly is everyone's messenger. She goes to Falstaff at the behest of Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, and she speaks to Anne Page on behalf of all three of her suitors. Yet she prefers Fenton and supports his suit most readily. Mistress Quickly chronically misunderstands or mishears other people, hearing sexually charged conversations where there are none.
One of Falstaff's men, Bardolph takes over as the bartender of the Garter Inn in order to pay for Falstaff's entourage's room and board.
One of Falstaff's men, Nim wants to stay honest, and he refuses to deliver Falstaff's seductive letters to Mistress Page and Mistress Ford. Instead, he and Pistol decide to let the husbands know of Falstaff's scheme.
One of Falstaff's men, Pistol wants to stay honest, and he refuses to deliver Falstaff's seductive letters to Mistress Page and Mistress Ford. Instead, he and Nim decide to let the husbands know of Falstaff's scheme.
Host of the Garter Inn, the Host makes fun of Evans and Caius's broken and accented English, so they decide to get back at him by tricking him. Their ploy results in the loss of three of the Host's horses.
Page's son, he meets Evans, who gives him an impromptu Latin lesson which Mistress Quickly entirely mishears as sexual innuendo.