List iconThe Merry Wives of WindsorList icon

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Act 2, scene 1

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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 Mistress Page reading a letter.

MISTRESS PAGE What, have I ’scaped love letters in
 the holiday time of my beauty, and am I now a
 subject for them? Let me see.
She reads.
 Ask me no reason why I love you, for though Love
5 use Reason for his precisian, he admits him not for
 his counselor. You are not young; no more am I. Go
 to, then, there’s sympathy. You are merry; so am I.
 Ha, ha, then, there’s more sympathy. You love sack,
 and so do I. Would you desire better sympathy? Let
10 it suffice thee, Mistress Page—at the least, if the love
 of soldier can suffice—that I love thee. I will not say
 pity me—’tis not a soldier-like phrase—but I say love
 me. By me,
 Thine own true knight,
15 By day or night,
 Or any kind of light,
 With all his might
 For thee to fight,

 John Falstaff.

20 What a Herod of Jewry is this! O wicked, wicked
 world! One that is well-nigh worn to pieces with
 age, to show himself a young gallant! What an
 unweighed behavior hath this Flemish drunkard
47

49
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ACT 2. SC. 1

 picked—with the devil’s name!—out of my conversation,
25 that he dares in this manner assay me?
 Why, he hath not been thrice in my company!
 What should I say to him? I was then frugal of my
 mirth. Heaven forgive me! Why, I’ll exhibit a bill
 in the Parliament for the putting down of men.
30 How shall I be revenged on him? For revenged I
 will be, as sure as his guts are made of puddings.

Enter Mistress Ford.

MISTRESS FORD Mistress Page! Trust me, I was going to
 your house.
MISTRESS PAGE And, trust me, I was coming to you.
35 You look very ill.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, I’ll ne’er believe that. I have to
 show to the contrary.
MISTRESS PAGE Faith, but you do, in my mind.
MISTRESS FORD Well, I do, then. Yet I say I could show
40 you to the contrary. O Mistress Page, give me some
 counsel.
MISTRESS PAGE What’s the matter, woman?
MISTRESS FORD O woman, if it were not for one trifling
 respect, I could come to such honor!
MISTRESS PAGE 45Hang the trifle, woman; take the honor.
 What is it? Dispense with trifles. What is it?
MISTRESS FORD If I would but go to hell for an eternal
 moment or so, I could be knighted.
MISTRESS PAGE What, thou liest! Sir Alice Ford? These
50 knights will hack, and so thou shouldst not alter
 the article of thy gentry.
MISTRESS FORD We burn daylight. Here, read, read. Perceive
 how I might be knighted. (She gives a paper
 to Mistress Page, who reads it.) 
I shall think the
55 worse of fat men as long as I have an eye to make
 difference of men’s liking. And yet he would not
 swear; praised women’s modesty; and gave such

51
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ACT 2. SC. 1

 orderly and well-behaved reproof to all uncomeliness
 that I would have sworn his disposition
60 would have gone to the truth of his words. But
 they do no more adhere and keep place together
 than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of
 Greensleeves. What tempest, I trow, threw this
 whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly, ashore
65 at Windsor? How shall I be revenged on him? I
 think the best way were to entertain him with hope
 till the wicked fire of lust have melted him in his
 own grease. Did you ever hear the like?
MISTRESS PAGE Letter for letter, but that the name of
70 Page and Ford differs! To thy great comfort in this
 mystery of ill opinions, here’s the twin brother of
 thy letter. (She gives a paper to Mistress Ford, who
 reads it.) 
But let thine inherit first, for I protest
 mine never shall. I warrant he hath a thousand of
75 these letters writ with blank space for different
 names—sure, more—and these are of the second
 edition. He will print them, out of doubt; for he
 cares not what he puts into the press, when he
 would put us two. I had rather be a giantess and lie
80 under Mount Pelion. Well, I will find you twenty
 lascivious turtles ere one chaste man.
MISTRESS FORD Why, this is the very same—the very
 hand, the very words. What doth he think of us?
MISTRESS PAGE Nay, I know not. It makes me almost
85 ready to wrangle with mine own honesty. I’ll entertain
 myself like one that I am not acquainted
 withal; for, sure, unless he know some strain in
 me that I know not myself, he would never have
 boarded me in this fury.
MISTRESS FORD 90“Boarding” call you it? I’ll be sure to
 keep him above deck.
MISTRESS PAGE So will I. If he come under my hatches,
 I’ll never to sea again. Let’s be revenged on him.
 Let’s appoint him a meeting, give him a show of

53
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ACT 2. SC. 1

95 comfort in his suit, and lead him on with a fine-baited
 delay till he hath pawned his horses to mine
 Host of the Garter.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, I will consent to act any villainy
 against him that may not sully the chariness of our
100 honesty. O, that my husband saw this letter! It
 would give eternal food to his jealousy.
MISTRESS PAGE Why, look where he comes, and my
 good man too. He’s as far from jealousy as I am
 from giving him cause, and that, I hope, is an
105 unmeasurable distance.
MISTRESS FORD You are the happier woman.
MISTRESS PAGE Let’s consult together against this greasy
 knight. Come hither.They talk aside.

Enter Ford with Pistol, and Page with Nym.

FORD Well, I hope it be not so.
PISTOL 
110 Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs.
 Sir John affects thy wife.
FORD Why, sir, my wife is not young.
PISTOL 
 He woos both high and low, both rich and poor,
 Both young and old, one with another, Ford.
115 He loves the gallimaufry. Ford, perpend.
FORD Love my wife?
PISTOL 
 With liver burning hot. Prevent,
 Or go thou like Sir Acteon, he,
 With Ringwood at thy heels.
120 O, odious is the name!
FORD What name, sir?
PISTOL The horn, I say. Farewell.
 Take heed, have open eye, for thieves do foot by
 night.
125 Take heed, ere summer comes or cuckoo birds do
 sing.—

55
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Away, Sir Corporal Nym.—Believe it, Page. He
 speaks sense.He exits.
FORD, aside I will be patient. I will find out this.
NYM, to Page 130And this is true. I like not the humor of
 lying. He hath wronged me in some humors. I
 should have borne the humored letter to her; but I
 have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity.
 He loves your wife; there’s the short and the long.
135 My name is Corporal Nym. I speak and I avouch.
 ’Tis true. My name is Nym, and Falstaff loves your
 wife. Adieu. I love not the humor of bread and
 cheese. Adieu.He exits.
PAGE, aside “The humor of it,” quoth he? Here’s a fellow
140 frights English out of his wits.
FORD, aside I will seek out Falstaff.
PAGE, aside I never heard such a drawling, affecting
 rogue.
FORD, aside If I do find it—well.
PAGE, aside 145I will not believe such a Cataian, though
 the priest o’ th’ town commended him for a true
 man.
FORD, aside ’Twas a good sensible fellow—well.

Mistress Page and Mistress Ford come forward.

PAGE, to Mistress Page How now, Meg?
MISTRESS PAGE 150Whither go you, George? Hark you.
They talk aside.
MISTRESS FORD, to Ford How now, sweet Frank? Why
 art thou melancholy?
FORD I melancholy? I am not melancholy. Get you
 home. Go.
MISTRESS FORD 155Faith, thou hast some crochets in thy
 head now.—Will you go, Mistress Page?
MISTRESS PAGE Have with you.—You’ll come to dinner,
 George? (Aside to Mistress Ford.) Look who
 comes yonder.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 1

Enter Mistress Quickly.

160 She shall be our messenger to this paltry knight.
MISTRESS FORD Trust me, I thought on her. She’ll fit it.
MISTRESS PAGE, to Mistress Quickly You are come to
 see my daughter Anne?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Ay, forsooth. And, I pray, how does
165 good Mistress Anne?
MISTRESS PAGE Go in with us and see. We have an
 hour’s talk with you.
Mistress Page, Mistress Ford, and
Mistress Quickly exit.

PAGE How now, Master Ford?
FORD You heard what this knave told me, did you not?
PAGE 170Yes, and you heard what the other told me?
FORD Do you think there is truth in them?
PAGE Hang ’em, slaves! I do not think the knight
 would offer it. But these that accuse him in his intent
 towards our wives are a yoke of his discarded
175 men, very rogues, now they be out of service.
FORD Were they his men?
PAGE Marry, were they.
FORD I like it never the better for that. Does he lie at
 the Garter?
PAGE 180Ay, marry, does he. If he should intend this voyage
 toward my wife, I would turn her loose to him;
 and what he gets more of her than sharp words, let
 it lie on my head.
FORD I do not misdoubt my wife, but I would be loath
185 to turn them together. A man may be too confident.
 I would have nothing lie on my head. I cannot
 be thus satisfied.

Enter Host.

PAGE Look where my ranting Host of the Garter
 comes. There is either liquor in his pate or money
190 in his purse when he looks so merrily.—How now,
 mine Host?

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ACT 2. SC. 1

HOST How now, bullyrook? Thou ’rt a gentleman.—
 Cavaleiro Justice, I say!

Enter Shallow.

SHALLOW I follow, mine Host, I follow.—Good even
195 and twenty, good Master Page. Master Page, will
 you go with us? We have sport in hand.
HOST Tell him, Cavaleiro Justice; tell him, bullyrook.
SHALLOW Sir, there is a fray to be fought between
 Sir Hugh the Welsh priest and Caius the French
200 doctor.
FORD Good mine Host o’ th’ Garter, a word with you.
HOST What say’st thou, my bullyrook?
The Host and Ford talk aside.
SHALLOW, to Page Will you go with us to behold it?
 My merry Host hath had the measuring of their
205 weapons and, I think, hath appointed them contrary
 places; for, believe me, I hear the parson is no
 jester. Hark, I will tell you what our sport shall be.
Shallow and Page talk aside.
HOST, to Ford Hast thou no suit against my knight,
 my guest cavalier?
FORD 210None, I protest. But I’ll give you a pottle of
 burnt sack to give me recourse to him, and tell him
 my name is Brook—only for a jest.
HOST My hand, bully. Thou shalt have egress and
 regress—said I well?—and thy name shall be
215 Brook. It is a merry knight. (To Shallow and
 Page.) 
Will you go, ameers?
SHALLOW Have with you, mine Host.
PAGE I have heard the Frenchman hath good skill
 in his rapier.
SHALLOW 220Tut, sir, I could have told you more. In these
 times you stand on distance—your passes, stoccados,
 and I know not what. ’Tis the heart, Master
 Page; ’tis here, ’tis here. I have seen the time, with
 my long sword I would have made you four tall
225 fellows skip like rats.

61
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 2

HOST Here, boys, here, here! Shall we wag?
PAGE Have with you. I had rather hear them scold
 than fight.Page, Host, and Shallow exit.
FORD Though Page be a secure fool and stands so
230 firmly on his wife’s frailty, yet I cannot put off my
 opinion so easily. She was in his company at Page’s
 house, and what they made there I know not. Well,
 I will look further into ’t, and I have a disguise to
 sound Falstaff. If I find her honest, I lose not my
235 labor. If she be otherwise, ’tis labor well bestowed.
He exits.