Here is a brief plot summary of The Merry Wives of Windsor:

Sir John Falstaff is in financial difficulties. On top of that, Justice Shallow and his youthful cousin, Slender, have come to Windsor because he has conned them out of money. Falstaff decides to woo the wives of two of Windsor’s leading merchants, Page, and Ford, to get money out of them. He sends his page, Robin, to each of the wives with a letter. The wives compare the letters and find that they are identical.

They decide to teach him a lesson and devise a plan. They invite him to Mistress Ford’s house at a time when Ford will be out bird shooting. Falstaff’scompanions, Pistol and Nym, tell Ford about Falstaff’s intentions and Ford, a naturally jealous man, resolves to catch his wife out. He disguises himself as a shy man, Master Brook, with a passion for Mistress Ford, and goes to Falstaff and offers him money to woo her on his behalf. Falstaff tells him that a meeting has already been arranged and agrees to Master Brook’s request.

Slender has made friends with a local clergyman, Parson Evans. Slender has fallen for Page’s daughter, Anne, who is already secretly meeting a young courtier, Fenton, of whom Page disapproves. Anne’s mother, Mistress Page, is determined that she will marry the French doctor, Caius. When Caius hears about Slender’s suit he challenges Parson Evans to a duel. The landlord of the Garter Inn confuses matters by setting different places for the duel, which results in the antagonists making up their differences.

Falstaff arrives at Mistress Ford’s house but his wooing is interrupted by Mistress Page’s announcement that the men are returning. They hide Falstaff in a large laundry basket and he is carried out. Ford searches the house. Falstaff is tipped out on a muddy river bank. The wives, amused by the incident, decide to repeat the incident and invite Falstaff to come again. He is reluctant but Master Brook persuades hnbim to accept and his visit is again interrupted by Ford’s return. Ford searches the laundry basket but this time Falstaff is disguised as the elderly aunt of one of the servants. When Ford finds nothing in the laundry basket he loses his temper and angrily beats the ‘aunt’ out of the house. The wives laughingly tell their husbands about the trick and Page suggests that they should publicly humiliate Falstaff to stop him from preying on honest wives.

Mistress Ford invites Falstaff to meet her at night in Windsor Park, disguised as Hearne the Hunter. Parson Evans organises Anne and some children to dress as fairies. Anne plans to elope with Fenton, while her parents are plotting her kidnapping by Caius and a secret marriage to him. They all meet in the park and Falstaff is pinched and taunted by the fairies. Anne escapes and returns as Fenton’s wife, while Cauius and Slender both find that they have eloped with boys. The play ends with the Pages giving their blessing to Anne’s marriage and everyone laughing at the evening’s antics and the humiliation of Falstaff.

 

See summaries of Shakespeare’s other plays >>

1 reply
  1. Methe spirit
    Methe spirit says:

    There are several others in the play named and not necessarily seen.

    Like Antony and Potpan and Nell and Susan Grindstone amongst the Capulet servants.

    All of them knaves according to Capulet’s commands.

    Also the son and heir of old Tiberio and the afore-mentioned young Petruchio.

    The party guests named in the letter the servant can’t read. Illiteracy and literacy being sharply delineated by the Petrarchan love of Romeo and the grounded first true love of Juliet. Artifice vs Nature.

    ‘Signior Martino and his wife and daughters;

    County Anselme and his beauteous sisters;

    the lady widow of Vitravio;

    Signior Placentio and his lovely nieces;

    Mercutio and his brother Valentine;

    mine uncle Capulet, his wife and daughters;

    my fair niece Rosaline; Livia;

    Signior Valentio and his cousin Tybalt,

    Lucio and the lively Helena.’

    A fair assembly indeed as in the ball took place and one assumes they are among the mingling guests,

    including

    Valentine the absent brother of Mercutio.

    And just where the hell is Rosaline, except on about five or six key characters lips and on the invitation. A Capulet and Juliet’s cousin. Sister to Tybalt, no; Lord Capulet’s side of the family and fair?

    Then those musicians first, second, and third: Simon Catling, Hugh Rebeck and James (Jack) Soundpost. Usually assigned character descriptions as 1st 2nd 3rd Musician when they are readily identifiable and have specific monikers. The music of love in the play being firmly grounded in words and not music, as in the callous musicians hanging out for a free meal while the supposedly dead Juliet lies upstairs. No music with her silver sound for heart’s ease unless you pay for it. The Friar had promised them a gig he knew would not be going through.

    It’s funny that the servant names are very English and not very Italian.

    The watchmen likewise first second third. No names but there are more than just two companions commanded by the first:

    ‘go some of you whoe’er you find attach’ suggests several to search the immediate vicinity and arrest suspects,

    ‘go tell the prince’ is to Paris’ page

    ‘the Capulets’ 2nd watchman

    and ‘the Montagues’ 3rd watchman

    and then some others search.

    Who’s left? The ghosts of Mercutio and Tybalt?

    So how many are there?

    The citizens too who are sick of the feuding and interrupt the first street brawl.

    All help to populate this civic fiction, this two hours traffic of our stage.

    My favourite bit of aurally nominally truthful text is Juliet’s:

    My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words
    Of that tongue’s utterance, yet I know the sound:

    and indeed their recently spoken and shared sonnet amounts to about 90 words for Romeo.

    Art thou not Romeo and a Montague?

    What’s in a name?

    Sound and fury signifying nothing. Or everything. Or something.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>