List iconThe Merry Wives of WindsorList icon

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Act 4, scene 4

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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 4
Enter Page, Ford, Mistress Page, Mistress Ford, and
Sir Hugh Evans.


SIR HUGH ’Tis one of the best discretions of a ’oman as
 ever I did look upon.
PAGE And did he send you both these letters at an
 instant?
MISTRESS PAGE 5Within a quarter of an hour.
FORD 
 Pardon me, wife. Henceforth do what thou wilt.
 I rather will suspect the sun with cold
 Than thee with wantonness. Now doth thy honor
 stand,
10 In him that was of late an heretic,
 As firm as faith.
PAGE  ’Tis well, ’tis well. No more.
 Be not as extreme in submission as in offense.
 But let our plot go forward. Let our wives
15 Yet once again, to make us public sport,
 Appoint a meeting with this old fat fellow,
 Where we may take him and disgrace him for it.
FORD 
 There is no better way than that they spoke of.
PAGE How, to send him word they’ll meet him in the
20 park at midnight? Fie, fie, he’ll never come.

161
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 4

SIR HUGH You say he has been thrown in the rivers
 and has been grievously peaten as an old ’oman.
 Methinks there should be terrors in him, that he
 should not come. Methinks his flesh is punished;
25 he shall have no desires.
PAGE So think I too.
MISTRESS FORD 
 Devise but how you’ll use him when he comes,
 And let us two devise to bring him thither.
MISTRESS PAGE 
 There is an old tale goes that Herne the Hunter,
30 Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
 Doth all the wintertime, at still midnight,
 Walk round about an oak, with great ragged horns,
 And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
 And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a
35 chain
 In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
 You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
 The superstitious idle-headed eld
 Received and did deliver to our age
40 This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.
PAGE 
 Why, yet there want not many that do fear
 In deep of night to walk by this Herne’s oak.
 But what of this?
MISTRESS FORD  Marry, this is our device,
45 That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us.
PAGE 
 Well, let it not be doubted but he’ll come.
 And in this shape when you have brought him
 thither,
 What shall be done with him? What is your plot?
MISTRESS PAGE 
50 That likewise have we thought upon, and thus:
 Nan Page my daughter, and my little son,

163
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 4

 And three or four more of their growth we’ll dress
 Like urchins, aufs, and fairies, green and white,
 With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads
55 And rattles in their hands. Upon a sudden,
 As Falstaff, she, and I are newly met,
 Let them from forth a sawpit rush at once
 With some diffusèd song. Upon their sight,
 We two in great amazedness will fly.
60 Then let them all encircle him about,
 And, fairy-like, to pinch the unclean knight,
 And ask him why, that hour of fairy revel,
 In their so sacred paths he dares to tread
 In shape profane.
FORD 65 And till he tell the truth,
 Let the supposèd fairies pinch him sound
 And burn him with their tapers.
MISTRESS PAGE  The truth being known,
 We’ll all present ourselves, dis-horn the spirit,
70 And mock him home to Windsor.
FORD  The children must
 Be practiced well to this, or they’ll ne’er do ’t.
SIR HUGH I will teach the children their behaviors, and
 I will be like a jackanapes also, to burn the knight
75 with my taber.
FORD That will be excellent. I’ll go buy them vizards.
MISTRESS PAGE 
 My Nan shall be the queen of all the fairies,
 Finely attirèd in a robe of white.
PAGE 
 That silk will I go buy. (Aside.) And in that time
80 Shall Master Slender steal my Nan away
 And marry her at Eton.—Go, send to Falstaff
 straight.
FORD 
 Nay, I’ll to him again in name of Brook.
 He’ll tell me all his purpose. Sure he’ll come.

165
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 5

MISTRESS PAGE 
85 Fear not you that. Go get us properties
 And tricking for our fairies.
SIR HUGH Let us about it. It is admirable pleasures and
 fery honest knaveries.
Page, Ford, and Sir Hugh exit.
MISTRESS PAGE Go, Mistress Ford,
90 Send quickly to Sir John to know his mind.
Mistress Ford exits.
 I’ll to the doctor. He hath my good will,
 And none but he, to marry with Nan Page.
 That Slender, though well-landed, is an idiot,
 And he my husband best of all affects.
95 The doctor is well-moneyed, and his friends
 Potent at court. He, none but he, shall have her,
 Though twenty thousand worthier come to crave her.
She exits.