William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor in the complete original text.
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The Merry Wives of Windsor

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The Merry Wives of Windsor Play

The Merry Wives of Windsor begins with Parson Evans receiving a complaint from Justice Shallow and nephew Slender that Sir John Falstaff is again causing trouble, chasing the fair Mistress Anne Page. Slender falls in love with Anne but is too shy to tell her and propose. Thus Evans decides to help his nephew by having Slender's servant Simple send a letter to Anne's friend Mistress Quickly so she might help Slender. Running out of money, Sir John decides to seduce his way into money by sleeping with the wives of both Page and Ford. Disgusted, Sir John's friends Pistol and Nym inform the wives in secret. Mistress Quickly tells Simple she will help Slender woo Anne but this is overheard by Doctor Caius, who also loving Anne, challenges Parson Evans to a duel for interfering. Fenton also loves Anne...

Meanwhile Mrs Ford and Mrs Page discover Sir John Falstaff's letters to be identical, plotting with expert prankster Mistress Quickly to punish him. Likewise, Mr Ford and Mr Page learn of Sir John's plans from Pistol and Nym. Whilst Page trusts his wife, Ford is not so sure, taking the disguise of Brooke to divine Falstaff's intentions. Brooke offers Falstaff money to sleep with Mrs Ford to stop Falstaff, Falstaff agreeing but also insulting Brooke, unaware that he is Ford. Meanwhile, Caius waits in a field for Parson Evans to show up which he does not.Evans, though is also waiting for Caius to show but is in another field. Eventually both learn that the Host gave them different locations to stop the duel both uniting to make the Host pay for this.

Falstaff arrives to seduce Ford's wife, Mrs Page arriving to warn Falstaff of Mr Ford's arrival. Panicking, the women convince Falstaff into hiding in a trunk full of dirty laundry they then have thrown into a muddy ditch. Ford arrives, not finding Falstaff. Meanwhile Fenton declares his love for Anne. Anne loves Fenton but Mr Page wants her to marry Slender, Mrs Page preferring Caius. Brooke arrives, Falstaff recounting his wet ordeal but also his next meeting... At Mrs Ford's house, Falstaff again is warned of Mr Ford's imminent arrival but Ford does turn up and they decide to hide Falstaff this time as a woman to escape injury. Angry at Ford's distrust, Mrs Page and Ford have the trunk once again taken out but without Falstaff. Seeing what he thinks is the aunt of Mistress Ford's maid, Ford beats up the Brainford woman (Falstaff). Now the women reveal all to their husbands, Ford apologizing for doubting his wife and now the two women decide to promise to meet Falstaff together at midnight where children disguised as fairies can terrify Falstaff.

Meanwhile, Mr Page has chosen Slender to be Anne's husband but Mrs Page wants her daughter to marry Caius. Caius and Parson Evans play a prank on the Host. Anne has chosen to marry Fenton but to fool her parent's wishes she will not be wearing white as Mr Page told Slender nor green as Mrs Page told Caius, both men making away with children wearing these colours! Falstaff arrives at the oak giddy with excitement, only to be tormented by fairies and in his terror, laughed at by most of Windsor. Anne's elopement with Fenton is accepted and Mistress Quickly informs Falstaff of the pranks to which he famously acknowledges, "I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass."


Dramatis Personæ

Act I
Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV

Act II
Scene I, Scene II, Scene III

Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V

Act IV
Scene I,
Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V, Scene VI

Act V
Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V

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