The Merry Wives of Windsor
How we cite our quotes:
Page is an ass, a secure ass: he will trust his wife; he will not be jealous. I will rather trust a Fleming with my butter, Parson Hugh the Welshman with my cheese, an Irishman with my aqua-vitae bottle, or a thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my wife with herself;
Here's our evidence for saying that guys like Ford think that all wives are untrustworthy. Ford says he doesn't trust his "wife with herself" and also says that Page is an "ass" for trusting Mrs. Page. What's really odd about this passage is how Ford compares his wife to both a thief and his own personal property (like his "butter," his "cheese," and his "gelding," or horse).
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 deservest it. (3.3.58)
Falstaff's approach to seducing the "merry wives" reveals his ideas about masculinity. According to Falstaff, guys who speak pretty words, wear cologne, and get dressed up for dates are big dummies. But the joke's on him, because Falstaff does actually end up being emasculated when he tries to romance the wives—especially when they humiliate him by tricking him into dressing up as the "old woman of Brentford."
Good mother, do not marry me to yond fool. [...] Alas, I had rather be set quick i' the earth And bowl'd to death with turnips! (3.4.80-85.)
When Anne's parents try to force her into a loveless marriage, we get the impression that Anne doesn't have a lot of power. But then Shakespeare gives us a glimpse into our girl's character. Turns out that Anne is kind of feisty and has a mind of her own. Here, she says she'd rather be buried alive than marry Slender or Caius (her parents' two choices). Eventually, she flat out refuses to let her parents dictate her future when she runs off and elopes with the man she loves—or at least the best option of the three (5.5). That's pretty gutsy, don't you think?