Watching The Merry Wives of Windsor is like channel surfing between back-to-back episodes of Punk'd! and Cheaters. In other words, when people get duped in this play, they often end up looking like chumps in front of a very large audience of people. When a lusty knight tries to seduce two "honest" housewives, they stage a series of elaborate pranks designed to teach him a lesson in front of the entire community. The tricks are also designed to punish a pathologically jealous husband, who thinks his wife is messing around behind his back. Meanwhile, just about every other minor character in the play engages in some sort of scheme or deception that's designed to make a victim look foolish in front of an audience. Shakespeare doesn't stop there. When it comes to pranks and intrigue, another pattern emerges in this play—the would-be trickster is usually the one who winds up getting duped in the end. All in all, pranking seems to be a way to work out social tensions and power struggles between various groups: husbands and wives, parents and children, middle-class citizens and aristocrats, Englishmen and foreigners, and so on. Hey, it's better than domestic violence.
In The Merry Wives of Windsor, deception and deceit always, always, always lead to public humiliation.
In the play, humiliation is an Olympic sport. Every character is always trying to outdo someone else.