The Merry Wives of Windsor
How we cite our quotes:
The Merry Wives of Windsor (Title Page)
Okay. When merry Wives was published in the first folio (1623) edition of Shakespeare's works, it was the only play in which the female characters didn't share the title with their male counterparts. Unless you count The Taming of the Shrew, which sort of implies that it's about a "shrewish" woman and her "shrew taming" husband. In any case, here's the point we want to make: The Merry Wives of Windsor is unique among Shakespeare's plays because it celebrates a couple of clever housewives who manage to turn the tables on men (a jealous husband and a predatory knight). Check out "What's Up With the Title" for more about this.
There is Anne Page which is daughter to Master George Page, which is pretty virginity. [...] And seven hundred pounds of moneys, and gold and silver, is her grandsire upon his death's-bed. (1.1.40-44)
So, Shakespeare celebrates a couple of strong women who end up on top in this play, right? Well, one of those women has a daughter (Anne Page) who is sought after by three different suitors. As we can see here, a lot of men see Anne as an object—a pretty girl who's about to inherit a bunch of money, which makes her an attractive candidate for marriage. Not too promising here—but just wait until the end. Little Anne is going to turn out to have a mind of her own, just like her mom.
Well, let us see honest Master Page. (1.1.53)
After it's decided that Slender should go after Anne Page for her money, Slender and his pals set off to talk to… Master Page, Anne's father. So, why doesn't Slender talk to Anne about a possible marriage? Because in Shakespeare's day, marriages where business deals between men, that's why. Ah, the good old days.