Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : Comedy
Shadow of Confusion
Falstaff Thinks He's a Player and Master Ford Is Certain His Wife's a Cheater
According to Booker, "in the first stage we see a little world in which people have passed under a shadow of confusion, uncertainty and frustration, and are shut off from one another."
Okay. This can definitely apply to Falstaff (who thinks he can take advantage of two housewives) and Master Ford (who thinks that all women cheat on their spouses).
Pressure of Darkness
The Merry Wives Punk Falstaff and Ford... Repeatedly
Booker says that in the second stage of a comedy "the confusion gets worse until the pressure of darkness is at its most acute and everyone is in a nightmarish tangle."
Sounds about right to us. When the wives decide to humiliate Ford and Falstaff in public, we can definitely say that both men find themselves in "nightmarish" situations.
(Oh, and poor little Anne Page is caught between three guys—if anyone's keeping track of her.)
Everything Comes to Light
Falstaff and Ford Wise Up
"Finally," says Booker, "with the coming to light of things not previously recognized, perceptions are dramatically changed. The shadows are dispelled, the situation is miraculously transformed and the little world is brought together in a state of joyful union."
Sure. That works for this play. By the end of the final act, both Falstaff and Master Ford have learned their lessons, so there's room for forgiveness. The Page family decides to invite Falstaff to their daughter's wedding celebration, making him a part of their community—and maybe even redeeming him. (Although we're not holding our breath.)