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MonkeyNotes-The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
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Act I, Scene 4

This scene takes place in a room in Dr. Caius' house. Mistress Quickly, Simple, and Rugby enter. Mrs. Quickly tells Rugby to keep an eye out for Dr. Caius, for he will be upset over the visitors' presence. While Rugby keeps watch, Simple gives Mrs. Quickly the message about Slender's pursuit of Anne Page, and she consents to help in whatever way possible. Rugby re-enters to warn them of the master's arrival. Quickly hides Simple in a closet. Dr. Caius enters and orders her to fetch his green box from the same closet. He then opens the closet door to remove some medicines (called "simples" in Shakespeare's text) and finds Simple inside. The doctor is outraged, but both Rugby and Quickly quiet him.

On being informed of Simple's reason for meeting Quickly, the doctor sits to write his own letter. It turns out that he also loves Anne and wishes to challenge Evans over her. Simple exits with the letter, and the doctor and Rugby depart. Fenton, another suitor for Anne, then enters. Mistress Quickly encourages him in his suit, but privately doubts whether the young man will succeed.


Notes

This humorous scene revolves around Simple delivering the message to Mrs. Quickly about Slender's pursuit of Anne Page. Simple tries to paint Slender in pleasing terms, saying he has a "Cain-colored beard." Mrs. Quickly, however, is not impressed with Slender's appearance and describes him as wearing "a great round beard like a glover's paring knife." Simple also says of Slender that "he hath fought." He probably means to praise Slender but succeeds only in revealing that he was caught stealing rabbits.

It becomes obvious in this scene that Slender is not the only suitor for Anne, for both Fenton and Dr. Caius are attracted to this beautiful young lady and want to woo her. When Dr. Caius hears that Simple has brought a message from Evans about Anne, he misconstrues who his competition for the young lady really is and wants to challenge Evans; Shakespeare gives the impression that there has been a long standing rivalry between Evans, the Welshman, and Caius, who speaks in a strange French dialect. Mistress Quickly, who is not on her master's side in his endeavor after Anne, makes jokes about Caius' love at his expense.

Fenton is also introduced in this scene. He is a young gentleman who joins in the wooing of Anne. Mrs. Quickly encourages him, but privately (and erroneously) thinks that Anne will never be attracted to him.

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