The Merry Wives of Windsor

by: William Shakespeare

Act III, Scenes iv-v

Commentary

Mistress Quickly is privy to almost all the secrets in Windsor, and she plays the citizens against one another, presumably in order to make the most pocket money in tips as she performs her various errands. With three suitors seeking Anne's hand, all of whom having asked Quickly's help, she has to be careful not to reveal her double-dealing.

Meanwhile, the traditional conclusion of a happy wedding is threatened by a multiplicity of suitors and Anne's two stubborn parents. Neither wants to listen to Anne's desires, and Page is rightly suspicious of Fenton, who is penniless but claims he wants to marry Anne for love, not for her cash. He's the only one Anne likes, but also the only one not sanctioned by some member of her family. Her father supports a tongue-tied fool; while Slender can speak English fluently and without an accent, he's unable to speak anything but nonsense. Caius, her mother's preferred suitor, barely speaks English at all. Some clever scheming will have to take place to get the right couple together.

Mistresses Ford and Page's efforts to show up Ford's misplaced jealousy are further aided by Ford's own scheming. By pretending to be Brooke, he thinks he's one step ahead of his wife, but in fact he ends up being one step behind Falstaff, who is already too slow to figure out the wives' plan for his humiliation.


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