The Merry Wives of Windsor, W. Shakespeare (ed. Oxford University Press)
Page number: 242
Release date: July 2008
Themes: Theatre – Love – Seduction – Lies – Revenge – Jealousy – Marriage – Play – Classic
In need of money, the fat and foolish Falstaff devises a scheme to seduce two married women and steal their husbands’ wealth. By talking to each other, however, the wives soon discover his plan and begin to plot their own revenge.
I never plan to read this play but my English teacher wanted us to analyse a Shakespeare play, but for me, it is impossible to do it without reading the book.
The play takes place in the town of Windsor, in Berkshire, during the early 15th century, because one of the main character, Falstaff, also appears in the Henry IV plays.
There are three different themes in this play: revenge, jealousy and marriage.
Revenge: The revenge is the most current theme of the play. In fact, there are four different acts of revenge. The first is from the mistresses to Falstaff about the letter; the second is Falstaff’s servants that tell the truth to the husbands; the third is the Doctor who wants to fight with the priest Sir Hugh Evans. Next is the “fairy” attack in the park; then the discord between Anne’s parents bring them to plot against each other; the last one is the stratagem that Anne and Fenton create to marry.
Jealousy: The first mark of jealousy is when Sir Hugh Evans send a letter to Doctor Caius, and he goes insane. The other marks of jealous are particularly for Lord Ford who think that his wife has an affair with Falstaff he even disguises to know more about it.
Marriage: Since first act, this subject is broached. Indeed, we have the father who asks Master Slender to marry his daughter. After, the marriage in itself is calling into question by the supposed infidelity of Mistress Ford. The last time we talk about it is in the Act V scene 5 with the “fairy” attack when Fanton and Anne trick everyone to marry.
The characters are all different; there is only one complete description. Otherwise, it is only clues to imagine how the characters are; however the way they talk and their actions help to visualise them. For the main protagonists, we have more clues. For example, Falstaff is rude, a lady’s man, thief, liar, coward, has a fat belly, greasy knight, high esteem, Epicurean rascal, manipulative. It corresponds to the character that we do not like in general. The complete description comes from another character and is about Slender: “he hath but a little wee face, with a little yellow beard, a Cain-coloured beard. However, he is as tall a man of his hands as any is between this and his head; he hath fought with a warrener.” For the others, we think that some are bossy (e.g. Sir Page) or discreet (e.g. the wives). It gives us much freedom to decide how they look.
Conclusion: I like it even if, I am not used to it, but it was harder to me to read it because it is not modern English, so that is why Audible was helpful.