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MonkeyNotes-The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
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Act IV, Scene 5

Simple asks permission from the host to meet Falstaff, for he wishes to speak to the "old woman" who is in Falstaff's room. (Of course, the old woman is really Falstaff in disguise.) Since the Witch of Brainford is considered to be a wise woman, Simple has been sent to her by Slender to inquire about his chances of marrying Anne Page. When Simple goes to the room, he finds only Falstaff, for the old woman has supposedly left. Simple asks Falstaff what the old woman had to say about Slender and Anne. Falstaff gives him an ambiguous answer, which Simple is happy to report to Slender.

Bardolph enters to report to the host that the Germans have escaped with the horses without making payment. The host does not believe him. Then Sir Evans and Dr. Caius enter; with great delight, they inform the host that there was never any visiting German royalty. The men were mere thieves who go about stealing horses from innkeepers. The host cannot believe his ears.

Mrs. Quickly enters to deliver another letter from Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page to Falstaff. It is the invitation to meet the ladies in the forest.


Notes

The scene opens with Simple acting simply, as his name implies. He has come to ask the witch of Bainbridge about Slender's chances with Anne Page. He is so simple that he does not figure out that Falstaff has been in the disguise of the witch. Even when Falstaff acts in an ambiguous way, Simple does not catch on.

To continue the theme of trickery, it is revealed that Dr. Caius and Evans have succeeded in fooling the host, gaining their revenge. The host's horses have been taken without payment, and it is explained that there was no German royalty, only common horse thieves.

The main trickery of the play is also foreshadowed. Mistress Quickly brings Falstaff a letter from Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page inviting him to meet them in the forest. Although Falstaff has been tricked twice, he has still not learned his lesson and believes he can succeed in his plan to seduce these wives of Windsor.

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