The Merry Wives of Windsor
Master George Page
George Page is another rich citizen who's married to one of the "merry wives." (Mistress Page, duh.) He's a respected member of Windsor's community, likes to throw dinner parties featuring deer pot-pie, and seems like an all-around decent guy, especially when we compare him to the pathologically jealous Ford. You did notice that Shakespeare really, really, really wants us to compare Page to his buddy, Master Ford, right? Let's discuss.
Husband of the Year?
Like we've said before, Ford is the kind of husband who doesn't trust his wife and treats women like garbage. Page, on the other hand, seems laid back, trusts his wife completely, and is the kind of guy an Elizabethan woman would want to marry. Even the single and ready to mingle Mistress Quickly thinks he's awesome:
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)
Wow. According to Quickly, Page gives his wife a lot of personal freedom, trusts her with money, and treats her well… as opposed to making her life a living hell. Okay. We know what you're probably thinking. Mistress Quickly lies to just about everyone in this play. How do we know she's not lying to us right now? Good point, Shmooper. Let's gather some of our own evidence to see if Master Page really is husband of the year.
When Mistress Page talks about her hubby she says stuff like "He's as far from jealousy as I am from giving him cause" (2.1.91). Hmm. We never hear Mistress Ford talking about her husband like that, do we?
Plus, think about how Page reacts when he hears that Falstaff is trying to seduce his wife along with Master Ford's. Instead getting all enraged like Ford, Page blows it off and says he doesn't believe his wife will cheat on him. When he bumps into her about two seconds later he's all "How now, Meg?" (2.1.130). Totally calm. Totally cool. Totally casual. Later, he even manages to crack a little joke about how Falstaff probably isn't tough enough to handle a strong woman like his wife (2.1.160-162).
That's NOT how Master Ford reacts. Check out how the conversation goes when Ford sees his wife after hearing that some other guy wants to hook up with her:
How now, sweet Frank? Why art thou melan-
I melancholy? I am not melancholy. Get you home, go.
Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy head now. (2.1.132-136)
Master Ford is seriously bent out of shape and wants his wife to get home ASAP. George Page, on the other hand, doesn't get worked up about his wife's social life.
Father of the Bride
Okay. Page seems like a decent enough husband. So, what kind of father is he? Well, if we're going to judge him according Shakespeare's other dads, Page seems pretty typical. He's protective of his daughter, Anne, and spends a lot of time trying to find her the right husband. Well, the "right" husband according to his standards anyway.
Page wants his kid to marry Master Slender because the guy's got plenty of money. When penniless Master Fenton comes sniffing around for Anne's hand in marriage, Page gets pretty worked up and politely tells the kid to scram: "Why, how now? What does Master Fenton here? / You wrong me, sir, thus still to haunt my house. / I told you, sir, my daughter is disposed of" (3.4.64-66).
We can't really say we blame the guy. After all, even Fenton admits that he used to be pretty wild back in the day and only wanted Anne for her money at first (3.4.3-18). On the other hand, Master Page can't understand why his daughter wants to marry for love instead of money and he has to learn his lesson the hard way when Anne runs off and elopes (5.5).
But when Page finds out what happened, he takes the whole thing in stride and declares "Well, what remedy? Fenton give thee joy! / What cannot be eschewed must be embraced" (5.5.213-214). This is seriously laid back, Shmoopers. Compare his response to, say, that of Brabantio, who flips out and calls the cops when his daughter runs off and elopes in the opening scene of Othello: this is one cool dad.
And guess what? Both his wife and his daughter reward him by being smart, savvy ladies who know how to take care of themselves. It's almost like Shakespeare is saying, "Hey dudes. Give the ladies some space; they might just surprise you."