List iconThe Merry Wives of Windsor:
Act 3, scene 3
List icon

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Act 3, scene 3



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 3
Enter Mistress Ford and Mistress Page.

MISTRESS FORD What, John! What, Robert!
MISTRESS PAGE Quickly, quickly! Is the buck-basket—
MISTRESS FORD I warrant.—What, Robert, I say!

Enter John and Robert with a large buck-basket.

MISTRESS PAGE Come, come, come.
MISTRESS FORD 5Here, set it down.
MISTRESS PAGE Give your men the charge. We must be
MISTRESS FORD Marry, as I told you before, John and
 Robert, be ready here hard by in the brewhouse,
10 and when I suddenly call you, come forth, and
 without any pause or staggering take this basket
 on your shoulders. That done, trudge with it in all
 haste, and carry it among the whitsters in Datchet
 Mead, and there empty it in the muddy ditch close
15 by the Thames side.
MISTRESS PAGE You will do it?
MISTRESS FORD I ha’ told them over and over. They lack
 no direction.—Be gone, and come when you are
 called.John and Robert exit.
MISTRESS PAGE 20Here comes little Robin.

Enter Robin.

MISTRESS FORD How now, my eyas-musket? What news
 with you?
ROBIN My master, Sir John, is come in at your back
 door, Mistress Ford, and requests your company.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

MISTRESS PAGE 25You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been
 true to us?
ROBIN Ay, I’ll be sworn. My master knows not of your
 being here and hath threatened to put me into
 everlasting liberty if I tell you of it, for he swears
30 he’ll turn me away.
MISTRESS PAGE Thou ’rt a good boy. This secrecy of
 thine shall be a tailor to thee and shall make thee a
 new doublet and hose.—I’ll go hide me.
MISTRESS FORD Do so.—Go tell thy master I am alone.
35 (Robin exits.) Mistress Page, remember you your
MISTRESS PAGE I warrant thee. If I do not act it, hiss
 me.She exits.
MISTRESS FORD Go to, then. We’ll use this unwholesome
40 humidity, this gross-wat’ry pumpion. We’ll
 teach him to know turtles from jays.

Enter Sir John Falstaff.

FALSTAFF “Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel?”
 Why, now let me die, for I have lived long enough.
 This is the period of my ambition. O, this blessèd
45 hour!
MISTRESS FORD O, sweet Sir John!
FALSTAFF Mistress Ford, I cannot cog. I cannot prate,
 Mistress Ford. Now shall I sin in my wish: I would
 thy husband were dead. I’ll speak it before the best
50 lord: I would make thee my lady.
MISTRESS FORD I your lady, Sir John? Alas, I should be
 a pitiful lady.
FALSTAFF Let the court of France show me such
 another. I see how thine eye would emulate the
55 diamond. Thou hast the right arched beauty of the
 brow that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant,
 or any tire of Venetian admittance.
MISTRESS FORD A plain kerchief, Sir John. My brows
 become nothing else, nor that well neither.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

FALSTAFF 60Thou art a tyrant to say so. Thou wouldst
 make an absolute courtier, and the firm fixture of
 thy foot would give an excellent motion to thy gait
 in a semicircled farthingale. I see what thou wert,
 if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature thy friend.
65 Come, thou canst not hide it.
MISTRESS FORD Believe me, there’s no such thing in
FALSTAFF What made me love thee? Let that persuade
 thee. There’s something extraordinary in thee.
70 Come, I cannot cog and say thou art this and that
 like a many of these lisping hawthorn buds that
 come like women in men’s apparel and smell like
 Bucklersbury in simple time. I cannot. But I love
 thee, none but thee; and thou deserv’st it.
MISTRESS FORD 75Do not betray me, sir. I fear you love
 Mistress Page.
FALSTAFF Thou mightst as well say I love to walk by
 the Counter gate, which is as hateful to me as the
 reek of a lime-kiln.
MISTRESS FORD 80Well, heaven knows how I love you,
 and you shall one day find it.
FALSTAFF Keep in that mind. I’ll deserve it.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, I must tell you, so you do, or else
 I could not be in that mind.

Enter Robin.

ROBIN 85Mistress Ford, Mistress Ford! Here’s Mistress
 Page at the door, sweating and blowing and looking
 wildly, and would needs speak with you
FALSTAFF She shall not see me. I will ensconce me behind
90 the arras.
MISTRESS FORD Pray you, do so. She’s a very tattling
 woman.Falstaff stands behind the arras.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

Enter Mistress Page.

 What’s the matter? How now?
MISTRESS PAGE O Mistress Ford, what have you done?
95 You’re shamed, you’re overthrown, you’re undone
MISTRESS FORD What’s the matter, good Mistress Page?
MISTRESS PAGE O well-a-day, Mistress Ford, having an
 honest man to your husband, to give him such
100 cause of suspicion!
MISTRESS FORD What cause of suspicion?
MISTRESS PAGE What cause of suspicion? Out upon you!
 How am I mistook in you!
MISTRESS FORD Why, alas, what’s the matter?
MISTRESS PAGE 105Your husband’s coming hither, woman,
 with all the officers in Windsor, to search for a gentleman
 that he says is here now in the house, by
 your consent, to take an ill advantage of his absence.
 You are undone.
MISTRESS FORD 110’Tis not so, I hope.
MISTRESS PAGE Pray heaven it be not so, that you have
 such a man here! But ’tis most certain your husband’s
 coming, with half Windsor at his heels, to
 search for such a one. I come before to tell you. If
115 you know yourself clear, why, I am glad of it. But if
 you have a friend here, convey, convey him out. Be
 not amazed! Call all your senses to you; defend
 your reputation, or bid farewell to your good life
MISTRESS FORD 120What shall I do? There is a gentleman,
 my dear friend; and I fear not mine own shame so
 much as his peril. I had rather than a thousand
 pound he were out of the house.
MISTRESS PAGE For shame! Never stand “you had
125 rather” and “you had rather.” Your husband’s here
 at hand. Bethink you of some conveyance. In the

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

 house you cannot hide him. O, how have you deceived
 me! Look, here is a basket. If he be of any
 reasonable stature, he may creep in here; and
130 throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to
 bucking. Or—it is whiting time—send him by your
 two men to Datchet Mead.
MISTRESS FORD He’s too big to go in there. What shall I
 do?Falstaff comes forward.
FALSTAFF 135Let me see ’t, let me see ’t! O, let me see ’t! I’ll
 in, I’ll in. Follow your friend’s counsel. I’ll in.
MISTRESS PAGE What, Sir John Falstaff? (Aside to
Are these your letters, knight?
FALSTAFF, aside to Mistress Page I love thee. Help me
140 away. Let me creep in here. I’ll never—

Falstaff goes into the basket; they cover
him with dirty clothes.

MISTRESS PAGE, to Robin Help to cover your master,
 boy.—Call your men, Mistress Ford.—You dissembling
 knight!Robin exits.
MISTRESS FORD What, John! Robert! John!

Enter Robert and John.

145 Go, take up these clothes here quickly. Where’s the
 cowlstaff? Look how you drumble! Carry them to
 the laundress in Datchet Mead. Quickly! Come.

Enter Ford, Page, Doctor Caius,
and Sir Hugh Evans.

FORD Pray you, come near. If I suspect without cause,
 why then make sport at me. Then let me be your
150 jest; I deserve it.—How now? Whither bear you
ROBERT and JOHN To the laundress, forsooth.
MISTRESS FORD Why, what have you to do whither they
 bear it? You were best meddle with buck-washing!

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

FORD 155Buck? I would I could wash myself of the buck.
 Buck, buck, buck! Ay, buck! I warrant you, buck,
 and of the season too, it shall appear.
Robert and John exit with the buck-basket.
 Gentlemen, I have dreamed tonight; I’ll tell you my
 dream. Here, here, here be my keys. Ascend my
160 chambers. Search, seek, find out. I’ll warrant we’ll
 unkennel the fox. Let me stop this way first. (He
 locks the door.) 
So, now uncape.
PAGE Good Master Ford, be contented. You wrong
 yourself too much.
FORD 165True, Master Page.—Up, gentlemen. You shall
 see sport anon. Follow me, gentlemen.He exits.
SIR HUGH This is fery fantastical humors and
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, ’tis no the fashion of France. It is
170 not jealous in France.
PAGE Nay, follow him, gentlemen. See the issue of his
 search.Page, Sir Hugh, and Caius exit.
MISTRESS PAGE Is there not a double excellency in this?
MISTRESS FORD I know not which pleases me better—
175 that my husband is deceived, or Sir John.
MISTRESS PAGE What a taking was he in when your
 husband asked who was in the basket!
MISTRESS FORD I am half afraid he will have need of
 washing, so throwing him into the water will do
180 him a benefit.
MISTRESS PAGE Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all
 of the same strain were in the same distress.
MISTRESS FORD I think my husband hath some special
 suspicion of Falstaff’s being here, for I never saw
185 him so gross in his jealousy till now.
MISTRESS PAGE I will lay a plot to try that, and we will
 yet have more tricks with Falstaff. His dissolute
 disease will scarce obey this medicine.
MISTRESS FORD Shall we send that foolish carrion Mistress

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

190 Quickly to him, and excuse his throwing into
 the water, and give him another hope, to betray
 him to another punishment?
MISTRESS PAGE We will do it. Let him be sent for tomorrow
 eight o’clock to have amends.

Enter Ford, Page, Doctor Caius, and Sir Hugh.

FORD 195I cannot find him. Maybe the knave bragged of
 that he could not compass.
MISTRESS PAGE, aside to Mistress Ford Heard you
MISTRESS FORD You use me well, Master Ford, do you?
FORD 200Ay, I do so.
MISTRESS FORD Heaven make you better than your
FORD Amen!
MISTRESS PAGE You do yourself mighty wrong, Master
205 Ford.
FORD Ay, ay. I must bear it.
SIR HUGH If there be anypody in the house, and in the
 chambers, and in the coffers, and in the presses,
 heaven forgive my sins at the day of judgment!
DOCTOR CAIUS 210Be gar, nor I too. There is nobodies.
PAGE Fie, fie, Master Ford, are you not ashamed?
 What spirit, what devil suggests this imagination?
 I would not ha’ your distemper in this kind for the
 wealth of Windsor Castle.
FORD 215’Tis my fault, Master Page. I suffer for it.
SIR HUGH You suffer for a pad conscience. Your wife is
 as honest a ’omans as I will desires among five
 thousand, and five hundred too.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, I see ’tis an honest woman.
FORD 220Well, I promised you a dinner. Come, come,
 walk in the park. I pray you, pardon me. I will
 hereafter make known to you why I have done

The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 4

 this.—Come, wife—come, Mistress Page, I pray
 you, pardon me. Pray, heartily, pardon me.
Mistress Page and Mistress Ford exit.
PAGE, to Caius and Sir Hugh 225Let’s go in, gentlemen.
 But, trust me, we’ll mock him. (To Ford, Caius,
 and Sir Hugh.) 
I do invite you tomorrow morning
 to my house to breakfast. After, we’ll a-birding together;
 I have a fine hawk for the bush. Shall it be
230 so?
FORD Anything.
SIR HUGH If there is one, I shall make two in the
DOCTOR CAIUS If there be one or two, I shall make-a the
235 turd.
FORD Pray you, go, Master Page.
Ford and Page exit.
SIR HUGH I pray you now, remembrance tomorrow on
 the lousy knave mine Host.
DOCTOR CAIUS Dat is good, by gar, with all my heart.
SIR HUGH 240A lousy knave, to have his gibes and his
They exit.