The Merry Wives of Windsor
Marriage and Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Now, the report goes, she has all the rule of her hus- band's purse; he hath a legion of angels. (1.3.45-46)
Oh, that Falstaff. When he talks about wanting to seduce Ford's wife, he emphasizes the fact that she's got access to her husband's "purse" (a.k.a. bank account). And the quickest way to a man's bank account is through his wife's—er, look away kids, this is about to get less than PG.
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; then she plots, then she ruminates, then she devises; [...] God be praised for my jealousy! (2.2.263-271)
We know that Mistress Ford has no intention of ever cheating on her husband but Master Ford sure doesn't. He trusts his wife about as far he could throw her, which we're guessing isn't much. Not only that, but he sees his wife as his personal property, so Ford thinks that if she sleeps with another guy, it's the same thing as her stealing his "butter," his "cheese," or his "gelding" (horse). What's so weird about this is how Ford views his wife as both a thief and as stolen goods. Why is it that every time we turn around, this play links the threat of a woman's sexual infidelity with the threat of household theft? Check out Mistress Ford's "Character Analysis" for some of our thoughts on that.
Master Page is an honest man. Never a wife in Windsor leads a better life than she does: do what she will, say what she will, take all, pay all, go to bed when she list, rise when she list, all is as she will: and truly she deserves it; for if there be a kind woman in Windsor, she is one. (2.2.104-109)
Okay, okay, but not all husbands are bad. Here, Mistress Quickly gushes about what an awesome husband Master Page is to his wife: he gives his wife a lot of personal freedom, trusts her with money, and so on. Awesome, right? Well, we can't help but notice that Mistress Quickly describes "honest" Master Page as the exception rather than the rule.