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Henry IV Part 2

Henry IV Part 2

  

by William Shakespeare

Mistress Quickly

Character Analysis

Mistress Quickly is the hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern, where every degenerate in Eastcheap likes to hang out. Because of her association with the topsy-turvy world of the tavern, Mistress Quickly is an important figure that embodies the play's rebellious spirit. Recently widowed, Mistress Quickly falls prey to Falstaff's deception – he swindles her out of a lot of money after promising to marry her. Here's an example where Mistress Quickly orders two officers to arrest Falstaff:

I pray you,
since my exion is entered, and my case so openly
known to the world, let him be brought in to his
answer. A hundred mark is a long one for a poor
lone woman to bear, and I have borne, and borne,
and borne, and have been fubbed off, and fubbed
off, and fubbed off
[…]
Do your offices, do your offices,
Master Fang and Master Snare, do me, do me,
do me your offices
. (2.1.28-34; 39-41)

Mistress Quickly says that since her legal action ("exion") has been entered and made known to the world, she wants Falstaff to answer for his crimes against her. There's only so much she can "bear" (put up with) because Falstaff owes her so much money. At the same time, her complaints are full of double entendres, which makes her lawsuit seem a bit silly. Perhaps inadvertently, she implies that her legal case and her body are "openly known to the world." She also says she "bears" the burden of Falstaff's debt, with a pun on "bearing" the weight of Falstaff as a sexual partner. The unintentional bawdiness of her speech is comically exaggerated when she says been "fubbed off, and fubbed off, and fubbed off" and when she orders the officers to "do" their duties on her behalf: "do me, do me, do me," she says. Mistress Quickly, like her speech, is also totally out of control.

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