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

The scene takes place in a field near Frogmore, where Evans and Simple talk to each another. Evans questions whether the servant has searched sufficiently for Dr. Caius. Simple affirms that he has done his best, but that Dr. Caius is no where to be seen. Page, Shallow, Slender, the host, Rugby, and Caius enter; everybody steers Caius and Evans into a verbal, instead of physical, combat. Caius and Evans finally realize that they have been tricked into fighting and decide to get even with the host, who is the one who started everything in the first place.


Notes

While waiting for Caius, Evans sings lines from a Marlowe lyric to keep his spirits high. He questions his servant to make certain he has properly searched for the "enemy," and Simple assures him that Caius is no where to be found. When Caius shows up, with several interested parties in his company, the crowd urges the two men to have a verbal battle rather than a physical one. Caius is anxious for the fight to start, but Evans would prefer to resolve things quietly; Caius, however, is insistent. When the war of words between Caius and Evans begins, each showers the other with insults, to which the host contributes several of his own. When the combatants finally realize that they have been made to look like fools, they turn on the host, who is the responsible party.

Throughout this scene, a thoroughly smitten Slender endlessly sighs to nobody in particular, "Ah, sweet Anne Page!" His swooning reminds the audience about the woman for whom the duel was supposed to have taken place. It is ironic that in this matter of love, Caius' true rival, Slender, is not even involved in the duel, nor is Fenton, the one who will really win Anne's hand.

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