The Merry Wives of Windsor
Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
I am half afraid he will have need of washing, so throwing him into the water will do him a benefit. (3.3.154-155)
Uh-oh. According to Mistress Ford, Falstaff was afraid of being caught by her husband and probably peed his pants (or worse) in the laundry basket. So, he'll probably "have need of washing." She means that literally but, we've also noticed how there's a lot of talk in this play about Falstaff needing a moral cleansing. Every time we turn around someone is calling this lusty guy a "greasy" knight and Mrs. Page even refers to him as an "unclean knight" (4.5.56). So, dunking Falstaff in the river with a bunch of dirty laundry has a symbolic function. By teaching him a lesson, the wives cleanse him of his immoral ways.
This is well; he has made us his vlouting-stog. I desire you that we may be friends; and let us knog our prains together to be revenge on this same scall, scurvy cogging companion, the Host of the Garter. (3.1.99)
Making fun of someone is a lot more fun with an audience. That's why reality TV exists. Here, Evans eventually figures it out and says the Host "has made us his "vlouting-stog" (aka "flouting stock" or laughing stock). In other words, the Host has made them objects of ridicule in a very public setting. By the way, the term laughing stock comes from the practice of putting people in the "stocks." (That's when a victim's ankles and/or wrists were put between two boards in the middle of town so everyone could walk by and ridicule them.) Hey, the threat of public humiliation would keep us on the straight-and-narrow.
Well, I will take him; the torture my wife, pluck the borrowed veil of modesty from the so-seeming Mis- tress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure and wilful Actaeon, and to these violent proceedings all my neighbours shall cry aim. [...] I shall be praised for this than mocked (3.2.33-40)
Master Ford doesn't just fantasize about catching his wife having sex with another guy. He imagines catching her in front of an audience so she will be humiliated in public. Not only that, but Ford imagines all of his "neighbors" congratulating him. Crazy, right? No wonder he's always inviting his friends over when he thinks his wife is at home hooking up with Falstaff—Master Page wants an audience. We're a little disturbed by all this, guys.