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The Merry Wives of Windsor Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Why do you think so many theater and TV productions of The Merry Wives of Windsor adapt the play to a modern-day, suburban setting? And why the heck do Mistress Ford and Mistress Page always end up wearing acrylic nails and spandex dresses?
  2. Who's the real protagonist of this play? Falstaff? Or the "merry wives"?
  3. How serious is this play? Is it just a lighthearted romp, or is Shakespeare arguing for a deeper message?
  4. What, if anything, does this play have in common with TV sitcoms? (Consider that the word "sitcom" comes from the phrase "situation comedy.")
  5. If this play were a tragedy (like Othello) instead of a comedy, how would themes like "jealousy" play out on stage?
  6. Some literary critics think that the Falstaff of Merry Wives isn't as awesome as the Falstaff of Henry IV Part 1. Famous Shakespeare scholar Harold Bloom (aka "Bloomstaff") argues that "the hero-villain of The Merry Wives of Windsor is a nameless impostor masquerading as the great Sir John Falstaff" (source). What do you think?
  7. How do the "merry wives" of the play stack up to some of your other favorite Shakespeare heroines? Have we seen anything quite like Mistress Page and Mistress Ford in other plays?

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