The Merry Wives of Windsor
How we cite our quotes:
I think if your husbands were dead you two would
Be sure of that—two other husbands. (3.2.11-12)
Okay. We already knew that Ford was irrational in his fear that his wife will sleep with other men. But when he implies that the two women have a naughty relationship, we also see that he's jealous of his wife's relationship with her BFF, Mistress Page. But Mistress Page isn't having any of this. Her snappy comeback puts jealous Ford in his place.
I will take him, then torture my wife, pluck the borrowed veil of modesty from the so seeming Mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure and wilful Actaeon; and to these violent proceedings all my neighbours shall cry aim. [...] I shall be rather praised for this than mocked [...] (3.2.33-37)
Yikes! Not only does Ford want to catch his wife cheating, he wants to "torture" her and humiliate her publicly in front of all the "neighbors." (Maybe he should star in an episode of Cheaters.) The irony of this is that Ford is the one who looks like a fool in front of the entire community, right? After all, he's always inviting his buddies over to his house to try to catch his wife with Falstaff but he just ends up embarrassing himself in front of his neighbors. Fun times.
Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? You
were best meddle with buck-washing.
Buck! I would I could wash myself of the buck!
Buck, buck, buck! Ay, buck; I warrant you, buck;
and of the season too, it shall appear. (3.3.130-134)
Gee, why does Ford go berserk when his wife says that he's got no business worrying about "buck-washing" (aka laundry that needs to be bleached)? Because he hears the word "buck" and immediately thinks of an animal with horns, that's why, and horns are a symbol for cuckolds. Since Ford suspects his wife is cheating on him he's feeling a little sensitive about the subject. The great thing about this scene is that Falstaff is actually hiding in the buck-basket (laundry basket) this very moment, but Ford doesn't know it. What's the effect of all this? Well, it makes us feel like we're in on the joke with the "merry wives."