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MonkeyNotes-The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
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Act II, Scene 1

Both Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford are astonished when they learn that they have received identical copies of Falstaff's letter. Both are angry at Falstaff's impertinence and at his mistaken assessment of their feelings for him. Together they decide to teach him a lesson and plan an act of revenge; they will meet Falstaff as suggested and lead him on about their feelings in order to finally make a fool of him. With their scheming complete, the two wives of Windsor depart.

Mr. Ford, Mr. Page, Pistol, and Nym enter and begin to converse on stage. Pistol and Nym warn Ford and Page of Falstaff's evil designs on their wives. Both husbands decide to immediately seek Falstaff, but their wives re-enter to speak to them; the women, however, are given little attention before the men depart. Mistress Quickly then arrives on scene, looking for Anne Page. Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page beg Quickly to deliver their messages to Falstaff. Next, Shallow and the host of the inn make an appearance, and report that Sir Hugh Evans and Dr. Caius are to fight a duel. Ford requests the host of the inn to introduce him to Falstaff, not as Mr. Ford, but as a Mr. Brook.


Notes

Before this scene begins, the audience understands that Falstaff has misinterpreted whatever "signals" he may have received from Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page; as a result, the viewers or readers are not at all surprised at the wives' indignation over Falstaff's letter of invitation. Both women predictably react with outrage and express a desire for vengeance. Mrs. Page calls Falstaff a Herod of Jewry, alluding to the king during the time of Christ; he was always depicted as loud-mouthed and evil.

The content of Falstaff's letter, saying exactly the same words to both Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford, is humorous. Falstaff tries to sound profound, saying "for though Love use Reason for his precisian, he admits him not for his counsellor;" simply stated, Falstaff is telling both ladies that love is without reason.

The last few lines of the scene add a touch of suspense to the play. Shallow and the host of the Garter Inn enter and prematurely announce that Caius and Evans are to fight a duel. Mr. Ford requests that the host introduce him to Falstaff, not as himself, but as Mr. Brook. The name change suggests that Ford is uncertain of his wife's loyalty and so is determined to put her to the test.

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