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The Merry Wives of Windsor

William Shakespeare

Act I, Scenes i-ii

Summary Act I, Scenes i-ii


Justice Shallow enters a city street with Master Slender and Sir Hugh Evans. Shallow is angry at Sir John Falstaff and says he will bring him before the court. Evans, a man of the church, misunderstands and thinks he can help bring Falstaff before a church council.

Evans suggests that they focus their attentions on trying to arrange a marriage between Slender and Anne Page. They approach Master Page's house, and Page enters. He thanks Shallow for his gift of venison. Shallow asks if Falstaff is at Page's house, and Page says he is. Shallow says Falstaff wronged him, and Page reports that Falstaff admits it.

Falstaff enters with his entourage of Bardolph, Nim, and Pistol. Shallow accuses Falstaff of having beaten his men and killed his deer. Falstaff admits it. Slender accuses Falstaff of having beaten him. Evans says that Slender's wallet was stolen and that he believes Falstaff's men took it. The men deny it, saying Slender was too drunk to know what happened to his wallet. Slender says he'll never again drink with any men who are not good and honest.

Anne Page enters to serve the men wine, but Page says they'll all go inside. Mistress Page and Mistress Ford enter, greet Falstaff, and go inside with the others to dine. Slender sits alone, wishing for his book of love poems. His servant Simple enters, and Slender asks him where his book is. Shallow and Evans emerge from Page's house, and Evans suggests he has made a kind of marriage proposal in Slender's name to Page, asking for Anne's hand. Shallow asks if Slender can love her and if he would be willing to marry her, to which Slender replies positively. Even if there's no great love at the beginning, he says, it will grow once we get to know each other.

Anne enters to call the men to dinner. The others go in, but Slender hesitates. Anne says the others await him, but he insists he's not hungry and won't go in. He tries to make conversation with her but fails miserably. Page enters and encourages Slender to come inside. Slender repeats that he isn't hungry, but goes inside, after a debate about who should enter the door first.

Evans exits dinner with Simple. He sends Simple to Doctor Caius's house to ask for Mistress Quickly, Caius's servant. He gives Simple a letter for Mistress Quickly, asking for her help in convincing Anne Page to marry Slender.

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