List iconThe Merry Wives of WindsorList icon

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Act 2, scene 2

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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 2
Enter Sir John Falstaff and Pistol.

FALSTAFF I will not lend thee a penny.
PISTOL Why then, the world’s mine oyster, which I
 with sword will open.
FALSTAFF Not a penny. I have been content, sir, you
5 should lay my countenance to pawn. I have grated
 upon my good friends for three reprieves for you
 and your coach-fellow Nym, or else you had
 looked through the grate like a gemini of baboons.
 I am damned in hell for swearing to gentlemen my
10 friends you were good soldiers and tall fellows.
 And when Mistress Bridget lost the handle of her
 fan, I took ’t upon mine honor thou hadst it not.
PISTOL Didst not thou share? Hadst thou not fifteen
 pence?
FALSTAFF 15Reason, you rogue, reason. Think’st thou I’ll
 endanger my soul gratis? At a word, hang no more
 about me. I am no gibbet for you. Go—a short
 knife and a throng—to your manor of Pickt-hatch,
 go. You’ll not bear a letter for me, you rogue? You
20 stand upon your honor? Why, thou unconfinable

63
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ACT 2. SC. 2

 baseness, it is as much as I can do to keep the
 terms of my honor precise. Ay, ay, I myself sometimes,
 leaving the fear of God on the left hand
 and hiding mine honor in my necessity, am fain to
25 shuffle, to hedge, and to lurch; and yet you, rogue,
 will ensconce your rags, your cat-a-mountain
 looks, your red-lattice phrases, and your bold beating
 oaths under the shelter of your honor! You will
 not do it? You?
PISTOL 30I do relent. What would thou more of man?

Enter Robin.

ROBIN Sir, here’s a woman would speak with you.
FALSTAFF Let her approach.

Enter Mistress Quickly.

MISTRESS QUICKLY Give your Worship good morrow.
FALSTAFF Good morrow, goodwife.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 35Not so, an ’t please your Worship.
FALSTAFF Good maid, then.
MISTRESS QUICKLY I’ll be sworn—as my mother was,
 the first hour I was born.
FALSTAFF I do believe the swearer. What with me?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 40Shall I vouchsafe your Worship a
 word or two?
FALSTAFF Two thousand, fair woman, and I’ll vouchsafe
 thee the hearing.
MISTRESS QUICKLY There is one Mistress Ford, sir—I
45 pray, come a little nearer this ways. I myself dwell
 with Master Doctor Caius.
FALSTAFF Well, on. “Mistress Ford,” you say—
MISTRESS QUICKLY Your Worship says very true. I pray
 your Worship, come a little nearer this ways.
FALSTAFF 50I warrant thee, nobody hears. Mine own
 people, mine own people.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Are they so? God bless them and
 make them His servants!

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ACT 2. SC. 2

FALSTAFF Well, “Mistress Ford”—what of her?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 55Why, sir, she’s a good creature.
 Lord, Lord, your Worship’s a wanton! Well, heaven
 forgive you and all of us, I pray!
FALSTAFF “Mistress Ford”—come, “Mistress Ford”—
MISTRESS QUICKLY Marry, this is the short and the long
60 of it: you have brought her into such a canaries as
 ’tis wonderful. The best courtier of them all, when
 the court lay at Windsor, could never have brought
 her to such a canary. Yet there has been knights,
 and lords, and gentlemen, with their coaches, I
65 warrant you, coach after coach, letter after letter,
 gift after gift, smelling so sweetly—all musk—and
 so rushling, I warrant you, in silk and gold, and in
 such alligant terms, and in such wine and sugar of
 the best and the fairest, that would have won any
70 woman’s heart; and, I warrant you, they could
 never get an eye-wink of her. I had myself twenty
 angels given me this morning, but I defy all angels
 in any such sort, as they say, but in the way of
 honesty. And, I warrant you, they could never get
75 her so much as sip on a cup with the proudest of
 them all. And yet there has been earls—nay, which
 is more, pensioners—but, I warrant you, all is one
 with her.
FALSTAFF But what says she to me? Be brief, my good
80 she-Mercury.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Marry, she hath received your letter,
 for the which she thanks you a thousand times,
 and she gives you to notify that her husband will
 be absence from his house between ten and eleven.
FALSTAFF 85Ten and eleven?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Ay, forsooth; and then you may come
 and see the picture, she says, that you wot of. Master
 Ford, her husband, will be from home. Alas, the
 sweet woman leads an ill life with him. He’s a very

67
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ACT 2. SC. 2

90 jealousy man. She leads a very frampold life with
 him, good heart.
FALSTAFF Ten and eleven. Woman, commend me to
 her. I will not fail her.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Why, you say well. But I have another
95 messenger to your Worship. Mistress Page
 hath her hearty commendations to you too; and,
 let me tell you in your ear, she’s as fartuous a civil
 modest wife, and one, I tell you, that will not miss
 you morning nor evening prayer, as any is in Windsor,
100 whoe’er be the other. And she bade me tell
 your Worship that her husband is seldom from
 home, but she hopes there will come a time. I
 never knew a woman so dote upon a man. Surely, I
 think you have charms, la! Yes, in truth.
FALSTAFF 105Not I, I assure thee. Setting the attraction of
 my good parts aside, I have no other charms.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Blessing on your heart for ’t!
FALSTAFF But I pray thee, tell me this: has Ford’s wife
 and Page’s wife acquainted each other how they
110 love me?
MISTRESS QUICKLY That were a jest indeed! They have
 not so little grace, I hope. That were a trick indeed!
 But Mistress Page would desire you to send her
 your little page, of all loves. Her husband has a
115 marvelous infection to the little page; and, truly,
 Master Page is an honest man. Never a wife in
 Windsor leads a better life than she does. Do what
 she will, say what she will, take all, pay all, go to
 bed when she list, rise when she list—all is as she
120 will. And, truly, she deserves it, for if there be a
 kind woman in Windsor, she is one. You must send
 her your page, no remedy.
FALSTAFF Why, I will.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Nay, but do so then, and, look you,
125 he may come and go between you both. And in any

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ACT 2. SC. 2

 case have a nayword, that you may know one another’s
 mind, and the boy never need to understand
 anything; for ’tis not good that children
 should know any wickedness. Old folks, you know,
130 have discretion, as they say, and know the world.
FALSTAFF Fare thee well. Commend me to them both.
 There’s my purse. (He gives her money.) I am yet
 thy debtor.—Boy, go along with this woman. (Mistress
 Quickly and Robin exit.) 
This news distracts
135 me.
PISTOL, aside 
 This punk is one of Cupid’s carriers.
 Clap on more sails, pursue; up with your fights;
 Give fire! She is my prize, or ocean whelm them all!
He exits.
FALSTAFF Sayst thou so, old Jack? Go thy ways. I’ll
140 make more of thy old body than I have done. Will
 they yet look after thee? Wilt thou, after the expense
 of so much money, be now a gainer? Good
 body, I thank thee. Let them say ’tis grossly done;
 so it be fairly done, no matter.

Enter Bardolph with wine.

BARDOLPH 145Sir John, there’s one Master Brook below
 would fain speak with you and be acquainted with
 you, and hath sent your Worship a morning’s
 draught of sack.(He hands Falstaff the wine.)
FALSTAFF Brook is his name?
BARDOLPH 150Ay, sir.
FALSTAFF Call him in. Such Brooks are welcome to
 me that o’erflows such liquor.(Bardolph exits.)
 Ah ha, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, have I encompassed
 you? Go to. Via!

Enter Bardolph with Ford disguised as Brook.

FORD, as Brook 155God bless you, sir.
FALSTAFF And you, sir. Would you speak with me?

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ACT 2. SC. 2

FORD, as Brook I make bold to press with so little
 preparation upon you.
FALSTAFF You’re welcome. What’s your will?—Give us
160 leave, drawer.Bardolph exits.
FORD, as Brook Sir, I am a gentleman that have spent
 much. My name is Brook.
FALSTAFF Good Master Brook, I desire more acquaintance
 of you.
FORD, as Brook 165Good Sir John, I sue for yours—not
 to charge you, for I must let you understand I
 think myself in better plight for a lender than you
 are, the which hath something emboldened me to
 this unseasoned intrusion; for they say, if money
170 go before, all ways do lie open.
FALSTAFF Money is a good soldier, sir, and will on.
FORD, as Brook Troth, and I have a bag of money
 here troubles me. He sets it down. If you will help
 to bear it, Sir John, take all, or half, for easing me
175 of the carriage.
FALSTAFF Sir, I know not how I may deserve to be your
 porter.
FORD, as Brook I will tell you, sir, if you will give me
 the hearing.
FALSTAFF 180Speak, good Master Brook. I shall be glad
 to be your servant.
FORD, as Brook Sir, I hear you are a scholar—I will
 be brief with you—and you have been a man long
 known to me, though I had never so good means
185 as desire to make myself acquainted with you. I
 shall discover a thing to you wherein I must very
 much lay open mine own imperfection. But, good
 Sir John, as you have one eye upon my follies, as
 you hear them unfolded, turn another into the register
190 of your own, that I may pass with a reproof
 the easier, sith you yourself know how easy it is to
 be such an offender.

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ACT 2. SC. 2

FALSTAFF Very well, sir. Proceed.
FORD, as Brook There is a gentlewoman in this
195 town—her husband’s name is Ford.
FALSTAFF Well, sir.
FORD, as Brook I have long loved her and, I protest
 to you, bestowed much on her, followed her with
 a doting observance, engrossed opportunities to
200 meet her, fee’d every slight occasion that could but
 niggardly give me sight of her, not only bought
 many presents to give her, but have given largely to
 many to know what she would have given. Briefly,
 I have pursued her as love hath pursued me, which
205 hath been on the wing of all occasions. But whatsoever
 I have merited, either in my mind or in my
 means, meed I am sure I have received none, unless
 experience be a jewel. That I have purchased
 at an infinite rate, and that hath taught me to say
210 this:
 “Love like a shadow flies when substance love
 pursues,
 Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.”
FALSTAFF Have you received no promise of satisfaction
215 at her hands?
FORD, as Brook Never.
FALSTAFF Have you importuned her to such a
 purpose?
FORD, as Brook Never.
FALSTAFF 220Of what quality was your love, then?
FORD, as Brook Like a fair house built on another
 man’s ground, so that I have lost my edifice by
 mistaking the place where I erected it.
FALSTAFF To what purpose have you unfolded this to
225 me?
FORD, as Brook When I have told you that, I have
 told you all. Some say that though she appear honest
 to me, yet in other places she enlargeth her
 mirth so far that there is shrewd construction

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ACT 2. SC. 2

230 made of her. Now, Sir John, here is the heart of my
 purpose: you are a gentleman of excellent breeding,
 admirable discourse, of great admittance,
 authentic in your place and person, generally
 allowed for your many warlike, courtlike, and
235 learned preparations.
FALSTAFF O, sir!
FORD, as Brook Believe it, for you know it. There is
 money. (He points to the bag.) Spend it, spend
 it, spend more; spend all I have. Only give me so
240 much of your time in exchange of it as to lay an
 amiable siege to the honesty of this Ford’s wife.
 Use your art of wooing; win her to consent to you.
 If any man may, you may as soon as any.
FALSTAFF Would it apply well to the vehemency of
245 your affection that I should win what you would
 enjoy? Methinks you prescribe to yourself very
 preposterously.
FORD, as Brook O, understand my drift. She dwells
 so securely on the excellency of her honor that the
250 folly of my soul dares not present itself; she is too
 bright to be looked against. Now, could I come to
 her with any detection in my hand, my desires had
 instance and argument to commend themselves. I
 could drive her then from the ward of her purity,
255 her reputation, her marriage vow, and a thousand
 other her defenses, which now are too too strongly
 embattled against me. What say you to ’t, Sir
 John?
FALSTAFF, taking the bag Master Brook, I will first
260 make bold with your money; next, give me your
 hand; and, last, as I am a gentleman, you shall, if
 you will, enjoy Ford’s wife.
FORD, as Brook O, good sir!
FALSTAFF I say you shall.
FORD, as Brook 265Want no money, Sir John; you shall
 want none.

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ACT 2. SC. 2

FALSTAFF Want no Mistress Ford, Master Brook; you
 shall want none. I shall be with her, I may tell you,
 by her own appointment. Even as you came in to
270 me, her assistant or go-between parted from me. I
 say I shall be with her between ten and eleven, for
 at that time the jealous, rascally knave her husband
 will be forth. Come you to me at night. You
 shall know how I speed.
FORD, as Brook 275I am blessed in your acquaintance.
 Do you know Ford, sir?
FALSTAFF Hang him, poor cuckoldly knave! I know
 him not. Yet I wrong him to call him poor. They
 say the jealous wittolly knave hath masses of
280 money, for the which his wife seems to me well-favored.
 I will use her as the key of the cuckoldly
 rogue’s coffer, and there’s my harvest home.
FORD, as Brook I would you knew Ford, sir, that you
 might avoid him if you saw him.
FALSTAFF 285Hang him, mechanical salt-butter rogue! I
 will stare him out of his wits. I will awe him with
 my cudgel; it shall hang like a meteor o’er the
 cuckold’s horns. Master Brook, thou shalt know I
 will predominate over the peasant, and thou shalt
290 lie with his wife. Come to me soon at night. Ford’s
 a knave, and I will aggravate his style. Thou, Master
 Brook, shalt know him for knave and cuckold.
 Come to me soon at night.Falstaff exits.
FORD What a damned epicurean rascal is this! My
295 heart is ready to crack with impatience. Who says
 this is improvident jealousy? My wife hath sent
 to him, the hour is fixed, the match is made.
 Would any man have thought this? See the hell of
 having a false woman: my bed shall be abused, my
300 coffers ransacked, my reputation gnawn at. And
 I shall not only receive this villainous wrong but
 stand under the adoption of abominable terms,

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ACT 2. SC. 3

 and by him that does me this wrong. Terms,
 names! “Amaimon” sounds well, “Lucifer” well,
305 “Barbason” well; yet they are devils’ additions, the
 names of fiends. But “Cuckold,” “Wittoll,” “Cuckold”!
 The devil himself hath not such a name. Page
 is an ass, a secure ass. He will trust his wife, he will
 not be jealous. I will rather trust a Fleming with
310 my butter, Parson Hugh the Welshman with my
 cheese, an Irishman with my aquavitae bottle, or
 a thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my wife
 with herself. Then she plots, then she ruminates,
 then she devises; and what they think in their
315 hearts they may effect, they will break their hearts
 but they will effect. God be praised for my jealousy!
 Eleven o’clock the hour. I will prevent this,
 detect my wife, be revenged on Falstaff, and laugh
 at Page. I will about it. Better three hours too soon
320 than a minute too late. Fie, fie, fie! Cuckold, cuckold,
 cuckold!
He exits.