List iconThe Merry Wives of Windsor:
Act 1, scene 1
List icon

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Act 1, scene 1



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

In The Merry Wives of Windsor, fat, disreputable Sir John Falstaff pursues two housewives, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, who outwit…

Act 1, scene 1

Justice Shallow and his nephew Slender accompany Sir Hugh the parson to the Pages’ home. There they meet Sir John…

Act 1, scene 2

Sir Hugh sends Slender’s servant Simple with a letter to Mistress Quickly asking her to intercede with Anne Page on…

Act 1, scene 3

Falstaff, in desperate need of funds, dismisses his servant Bardolph, who enters the employ of the Host of the Garter….

Act 1, scene 4

Delivering Sir Hugh’s letter to Mistress Quickly, Simple is discovered by her employer Dr. Caius (another of Anne’s suitors). Furious…

Act 2, scene 1

Mistress Page and Mistress Ford compare their love letters from Falstaff and plot revenge against him. Pistol and Nym tell…

Act 2, scene 2

Falstaff receives Mistress Ford’s invitation to visit; he then accepts “Brook’s” money in exchange for his promise to compromise Mistress…

Act 2, scene 3

Dr. Caius responds furiously when Sir Hugh fails to meet him for their duel. The Host calms his anger by…

Act 3, scene 1

Page, Shallow, and Slender join Sir Hugh, who is waiting to fight Dr. Caius. When the Host brings Dr. Caius…

Act 3, scene 2

Ford, knowing of Falstaff’s visit to Mistress Ford, gathers as many men as he can to go with him to…

Act 3, scene 3

Mistress Ford and Mistress Page begin their revenge against Falstaff. As Falstaff joins Mistress Ford, Mistress Page enters with news…

Act 3, scene 4

Attempting to court Anne Page, Fenton is interrupted first by his rival Slender and then by a hostile Master and…

Act 3, scene 5

Falstaff agrees once again to visit Mistress Ford and again informs “Brook” of his plans.

Act 4, scene 1

William, the young son of Master and Mistress Page, is briefly tested on his Latin by Sir Hugh.

Act 4, scene 2

Visiting Mistress Ford, Falstaff is again interrupted by Mistress Page, again with news of Ford’s threatening approach. This time the…

Act 4, scene 3

Some Germans want to hire the Host’s horses.

Act 4, scene 4

Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, having fully disclosed their dealings with Falstaff to their husbands, conspire with them to humiliate…

Act 4, scene 5

The Host learns his horses have been stolen. Mistress Quickly approaches Falstaff with another invitation, this time to meet Mistress…

Act 4, scene 6

The Host is asked to arrange for a vicar to marry Anne to Fenton that night.

Act 5, scene 1

Falstaff, having agreed to meet Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, promises success to “Brook.”

Act 5, scene 2

Slender prepares to elope with Anne Page.

Act 5, scene 3

Dr. Caius waits to elope with Anne Page. Mistress Page and Mistress Ford follow their plan to torment Falstaff.

Act 5, scene 4

Sir Hugh and the “fairies” approach.

Act 5, scene 5

Falstaff is tormented by the “fairies” and then publicly humiliated. Slender and Dr. Caius enter in turn to report that…

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Scene 1
Enter Justice Shallow, Slender, and Sir Hugh Evans.

SHALLOW Sir Hugh, persuade me not. I will make a
 Star-Chamber matter of it. If he were twenty Sir
 John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow,
SLENDER 5In the county of Gloucester, Justice of Peace
 and Coram.
SHALLOW Ay, Cousin Slender, and Custalorum.
SLENDER Ay, and Ratolorum too; and a gentleman born,
 Master Parson, who writes himself “Armigero”
10 in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation—
SHALLOW Ay, that I do, and have done any time these
 three hundred years.
SLENDER All his successors gone before him hath
15 done ’t, and all his ancestors that come after him
 may. They may give the dozen white luces in their
SHALLOW It is an old coat.
SIR HUGH The dozen white louses do become an old
20 coat well. It agrees well, passant. It is a familiar
 beast to man and signifies love.
SHALLOW The luce is the fresh fish. The salt fish is an
 old coat.
SLENDER I may quarter, coz.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SHALLOW 25You may, by marrying.
SIR HUGH It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.
SHALLOW Not a whit.
SIR HUGH Yes, py ’r Lady. If he has a quarter of your
 coat, there is but three skirts for yourself, in my
30 simple conjectures. But that is all one. If Sir John
 Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you,
 I am of the Church, and will be glad to do my
 benevolence to make atonements and compromises
 between you.
SHALLOW 35The Council shall hear it; it is a riot.
SIR HUGH It is not meet the Council hear a riot. There
 is no fear of Got in a riot. The Council, look you,
 shall desire to hear the fear of Got, and not to hear
 a riot. Take your visaments in that.
SHALLOW 40Ha! O’ my life, if I were young again, the
 sword should end it.
SIR HUGH It is petter that friends is the sword, and end
 it. And there is also another device in my prain,
 which peradventure prings goot discretions with
45 it. There is Anne Page, which is daughter to Master
 Thomas Page, which is pretty virginity.
SLENDER Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair
 and speaks small like a woman?
SIR HUGH It is that fery person for all the ’orld, as just
50 as you will desire. And seven hundred pounds of
 moneys, and gold, and silver, is her grandsire upon
 his death’s-bed (Got deliver to a joyful resurrections!)
 give, when she is able to overtake seventeen
 years old. It were a goot motion if we leave our
55 pribbles and prabbles, and desire a marriage between
 Master Abraham and Mistress Anne Page.
SLENDER Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred
SIR HUGH Ay, and her father is make her a petter
60 penny.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER I know the young gentlewoman. She has
 good gifts.
SIR HUGH Seven hundred pounds and possibilities is
 goot gifts.
SHALLOW 65Well, let us see honest Master Page. Is Falstaff
SIR HUGH Shall I tell you a lie? I do despise a liar as I
 do despise one that is false, or as I despise one that
 is not true. The knight Sir John is there, and I beseech
70 you be ruled by your well-willers. I will peat
 the door for Master Page. He knocks. What ho?
 Got pless your house here.
PAGE, within Who’s there?
SIR HUGH Here is Got’s plessing, and your friend, and
75 Justice Shallow, and here young Master Slender,
 that peradventures shall tell you another tale, if
 matters grow to your likings.

Enter Master Page.

PAGE I am glad to see your Worships well. I thank you
 for my venison, Master Shallow.
SHALLOW 80Master Page, I am glad to see you. Much
 good do it your good heart! I wished your venison
 better; it was ill killed. How doth good Mistress
 Page? And I thank you always with my heart, la,
 with my heart.
PAGE 85Sir, I thank you.
SHALLOW Sir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do.
PAGE I am glad to see you, good Master Slender.
SLENDER How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I
 heard say he was outrun on Cotsall.
PAGE 90It could not be judged, sir.
SLENDER You’ll not confess, you’ll not confess.
SHALLOW That he will not. ’Tis your fault, ’tis your
 fault. ’Tis a good dog.
PAGE A cur, sir.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SHALLOW 95Sir, he’s a good dog and a fair dog. Can there
 be more said? He is good and fair. Is Sir John Falstaff
PAGE Sir, he is within, and I would I could do a good
 office between you.
SIR HUGH 100It is spoke as a Christians ought to speak.
SHALLOW He hath wronged me, Master Page.
PAGE Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.
SHALLOW If it be confessed, it is not redressed. Is not
 that so, Master Page? He hath wronged me, indeed
105 he hath; at a word, he hath. Believe me. Robert
 Shallow, Esquire, saith he is wronged.

Enter Sir John Falstaff, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol.

PAGE Here comes Sir John.
FALSTAFF Now, Master Shallow, you’ll complain of me
 to the King?
SHALLOW 110Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my
 deer, and broke open my lodge.
FALSTAFF But not kissed your keeper’s daughter.
SHALLOW Tut, a pin. This shall be answered.
FALSTAFF I will answer it straight: I have done all this.
115 That is now answered.
SHALLOW The Council shall know this.
FALSTAFF ’Twere better for you if it were known in
 counsel. You’ll be laughed at.
SIR HUGH Pauca verba, Sir John, good worts.
FALSTAFF 120Good worts? Good cabbage!—Slender, I
 broke your head. What matter have you against
SLENDER Marry, sir, I have matter in my head against
 you and against your cony-catching rascals, Bardolph,
125 Nym, and Pistol.
BARDOLPH You Banbury cheese!
SLENDER Ay, it is no matter.
PISTOL How now, Mephostophilus?

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER Ay, it is no matter.
NYM 130Slice, I say! Pauca, pauca. Slice, that’s my humor.
SLENDER, (to Shallow) Where’s Simple, my man?
 Can you tell, cousin?
SIR HUGH Peace, I pray you. Now let us understand;
 there is three umpires in this matter, as I understand:
135 that is, Master Page (fidelicet Master Page);
 and there is myself (fidelicet myself); and the three
 party is, lastly and finally, mine Host of the Garter.
PAGE We three to hear it and end it between them.
SIR HUGH Fery goot. I will make a prief of it in my
140 notebook, and we will afterwards ’ork upon the
 cause with as great discreetly as we can.
PISTOL He hears with ears.
SIR HUGH The tevil and his tam! What phrase is this,
145 “He hears with ear”? Why, it is affectations.
FALSTAFF Pistol, did you pick Master Slender’s purse?
SLENDER Ay, by these gloves, did he—or I would I
 might never come in mine own great chamber
 again else—of seven groats in mill-sixpences,
150 and two Edward shovel-boards that cost me two
 shilling and twopence apiece of Yed Miller, by
 these gloves.
FALSTAFF Is this true, Pistol?
SIR HUGH No, it is false, if it is a pickpurse.
PISTOL 155Ha, thou mountain foreigner!—Sir John and
 master mine, I combat challenge of this latten
 bilbo.—Word of denial in thy labras here! Word of
 denial! Froth and scum, thou liest.
SLENDER, indicating Nym By these gloves, then ’twas
160 he.
NYM Be avised, sir, and pass good humors. I will say
 “marry trap with you” if you run the nuthook’s
 humor on me. That is the very note of it.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER By this hat, then, he in the red face had it.
165 For, though I cannot remember what I did when
 you made me drunk, yet I am not altogether an
FALSTAFF What say you, Scarlet and John?
BARDOLPH Why, sir, for my part, I say the gentleman
170 had drunk himself out of his five sentences.
SIR HUGH It is “his five senses.” Fie, what the ignorance
BARDOLPH, to Falstaff And being fap, sir, was, as
 they say, cashiered. And so conclusions passed the
175 careers.
SLENDER Ay, you spake in Latin then too. But ’tis no
 matter. I’ll ne’er be drunk whilst I live again but in
 honest, civil, godly company, for this trick. If I be
 drunk, I’ll be drunk with those that have the fear of
180 God, and not with drunken knaves.
SIR HUGH So Got ’udge me, that is a virtuous mind.
FALSTAFF You hear all these matters denied, gentlemen.
 You hear it.

Enter Anne Page with wine.

PAGE Nay, daughter, carry the wine in. We’ll drink
185 within.Anne Page exits.
SLENDER O heaven, this is Mistress Anne Page.

Enter Mistress Ford and Mistress Page.

PAGE How now, Mistress Ford?
FALSTAFF Mistress Ford, by my troth, you are very well
 met. By your leave, good mistress.He kisses her.
PAGE 190Wife, bid these gentlemen welcome.—Come, we
 have a hot venison pasty to dinner. Come, gentlemen,
 I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.
All but Slender, Shallow, and Sir Hugh exit.
SLENDER I had rather than forty shillings I had my
 book of Songs and Sonnets here!

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

Enter Simple.

195 How now, Simple? Where have you been? I must
 wait on myself, must I? You have not the Book of
 about you, have you?
SIMPLE Book of Riddles? Why, did you not lend it to
 Alice Shortcake upon Allhallowmas last, a fortnight
200 afore Michaelmas?
SHALLOW, to Slender Come, coz; come, coz. We stay
 for you. A word with you, coz. Marry, this, coz:
 there is, as ’twere, a tender, a kind of tender, made
 afar off by Sir Hugh here. Do you understand me?
SLENDER 205Ay, sir, you shall find me reasonable. If it be
 so, I shall do that that is reason.
SHALLOW Nay, but understand me.
SLENDER So I do, sir.
SIR HUGH Give ear to his motions, Master Slender. I
210 will description the matter to you, if you be capacity
 of it.
SLENDER Nay, I will do as my cousin Shallow says. I
 pray you, pardon me. He’s a Justice of Peace in his
 country, simple though I stand here.
SIR HUGH 215But that is not the question. The question is
 concerning your marriage.
SHALLOW Ay, there’s the point, sir.
SIR HUGH Marry, is it, the very point of it—to Mistress
 Anne Page.
SLENDER 220Why, if it be so, I will marry her upon any
 reasonable demands.
SIR HUGH But can you affection the ’oman? Let us command
 to know that of your mouth, or of your lips;
 for divers philosophers hold that the lips is parcel of
225 the mouth. Therefore, precisely, can you carry your
 good will to the maid?
SHALLOW Cousin Abraham Slender, can you love her?

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER I hope, sir, I will do as it shall become one
 that would do reason.
SIR HUGH 230Nay, Got’s lords and His ladies! You must
 speak positable, if you can carry her your desires
 towards her.
SHALLOW That you must. Will you, upon good dowry,
 marry her?
SLENDER 235I will do a greater thing than that, upon your
 request, cousin, in any reason.
SHALLOW Nay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet coz.
 What I do is to pleasure you, coz. Can you love the
SLENDER 240I will marry her, sir, at your request. But if
 there be no great love in the beginning, yet heaven
 may decrease it upon better acquaintance, when
 we are married and have more occasion to know
 one another. I hope upon familiarity will grow
245 more content. But if you say “Marry her,” I will
 marry her. That I am freely dissolved, and
SIR HUGH It is a fery discretion answer, save the fall is
 in the ’ord “dissolutely.” The ’ort is, according to
250 our meaning, “resolutely.” His meaning is good.
SHALLOW Ay, I think my cousin meant well.
SLENDER Ay, or else I would I might be hanged, la!

Enter Anne Page.

SHALLOW Here comes fair Mistress Anne.—Would I
 were young for your sake, Mistress Anne.
ANNE 255The dinner is on the table. My father desires
 your Worships’ company.
SHALLOW I will wait on him, fair Mistress Anne.
SIR HUGH ’Od’s plessèd will, I will not be absence at
 the grace.Sir Hugh and Shallow exit.
ANNE, to Slender 260Will ’t please your Worship to come
 in, sir?

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily. I am very
ANNE The dinner attends you, sir.
SLENDER 265I am not ahungry, I thank you, forsooth. (To
Go, sirrah, for all you are my man, go
 wait upon my cousin Shallow. (Simple exits.) A
 Justice of Peace sometime may be beholding to his
 friend for a man. I keep but three men and a boy
270 yet, till my mother be dead. But what though? Yet
 I live like a poor gentleman born.
ANNE I may not go in without your Worship. They will
 not sit till you come.
SLENDER I’ faith, I’ll eat nothing. I thank you as much
275 as though I did.
ANNE I pray you, sir, walk in.
SLENDER I had rather walk here, I thank you. I bruised
 my shin th’ other day with playing at sword and
 dagger with a master of fence—three veneys for a
280 dish of stewed prunes—and, by my troth, I cannot
 abide the smell of hot meat since. Why do your
 dogs bark so? Be there bears i’ th’ town?
ANNE I think there are, sir. I heard them talked of.
SLENDER I love the sport well, but I shall as soon quarrel
285 at it as any man in England. You are afraid if
 you see the bear loose, are you not?
ANNE Ay, indeed, sir.
SLENDER That’s meat and drink to me, now. I have
 seen Sackerson loose twenty times, and have taken
290 him by the chain. But, I warrant you, the women
 have so cried and shrieked at it that it passed. But
 women, indeed, cannot abide ’em; they are very ill-favored
 rough things.

Enter Page.

PAGE Come, gentle Master Slender, come. We stay for
295 you.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 2

SLENDER I’ll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.
PAGE By cock and pie, you shall not choose, sir! Come,
SLENDER Nay, pray you, lead the way.
PAGE 300Come on, sir.
SLENDER Mistress Anne, yourself shall go first.
ANNE Not I, sir. Pray you, keep on.
SLENDER Truly, I will not go first, truly, la! I will not do
 you that wrong.
ANNE 305I pray you, sir.
SLENDER I’ll rather be unmannerly than troublesome.
 You do yourself wrong, indeed, la!
They exit.