The Merry Wives of Windsor | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Check out this Infographic to learn more about William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor. Study visually with character maps, plot summaries, helpful context, and more.

Mistress Page, Act IV, Scene II ives may be merry and yet honest too. Sources: British Library, Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Guardian, Royal Shakespeare Company Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Women’s Empowerment In pranking Falstaff, the wives buck the patriarchy. Revenge In Windsor, getting even is a cherished local pastime. Jealousy Ford’s jealous behavior alienates him from his wife and friends. Themes Main Characters Mistress Page The other “merry wife”; plans and participates in pranks to embarrass Falstaff when not trying to marry her daughter off to a rich doctor Mistress Ford One of the lively, scheming wives; arranges a series of dates with Falstaff, only to play practical jokes on him instead of giving him what he seeks Sir John Falstaff Disreputable old knight; eternal optimist whose conscience is missing in action; attempts to woo the virtuous wives of Windsor for monetary gain By the end of the 1590s, Shakespeare had an established reputation as a writer of both comedies and serious history plays. He merged the two genres in The Merry Wives of Windsor. In the play he turned Falstaff, the breakout star of his histories, into the protagonist of a racy, raucous comedy. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE1564–1616 Author Dejected and defeated, Falstaff learns his lesson—at least for the moment. Acts IV & V: Poetic Justice The “merry wives” plan a series of embarrassing pranks against Falstaff. Acts II & III: Taking the Plunge Licentious, penniless Falstaff sets out to woo Mistresses Ford and Page. Act I: Risky Gambit Sir John Falstaff, a favorite from the Henry IV plays, returns to star in his own comedy. Arriving in small-town Windsor, he tries to flatter his way into the beds—and purses—of two wealthy, married, and virtuous women. Soon these “merry wives” hatch a major prank. Small English Town Airs Its Dirty Laundry OVERVIEW English Original Language c. 1597–1601 Years Written William Shakespeare Author The Merry Wives of Windsor Comedy Play

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