Study Guide

The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 1, Scene 4

By William Shakespeare

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Act 1, Scene 4

Read the full text of The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 1 Scene 4 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Over at Doctor Caius's house, the servant Peter Simple has arrived with a letter for Mistress Quickly. (Remember how Evans wrote a letter asking Mistress Quickly to be a go-between?)
  • Mistress Quickly asks a servant (John Rugby) to go to the window and be on the lookout for Doctor Caius, since Caius will be crazy angry if he comes home and finds another guy in his house.
  • After some discussion about how Slender is the kind of guy who "struts" around with his nose up in the air, Mistress Quickly Rugby runs into the room and is all "Look out! Doctor Caius is home!"
  • (Here's where the play starts to look like a modern day TV sitcom. All that's missing is a laugh track.)
  • Mistress Quickly stashes Peter Simple in the closet.
  • Caius enters the room (babbling to himself in French, like you do) and asks Mistress Quickly to fetch his green box. From the closet.
  • Quickly manages to grab the box without Doctor Caius seeing Peter Simple. (Whew. Close call.)
  • Then Caius remembers that, hey, he also needs some medicine from the same closet.
  • Before Mistress Quickly can stop him, he runs over, flings open the doors, and spots Peter Simple hiding in the closet. (Busted! We told you this was like a wacky sitcom.)
  • Before Caius can stab Peter Simple in the guts with his sword, Mistress Quickly intervenes and Simple explains that he was delivering a letter asking Mistress Quickly to put in a good word for Slender with Anne Page. 
  • Unfortunately, Simple's explanation doesn't help.
  • It turns out that Caius also wants to marry Anne and Mistress Quickly has already promised to help him.
  • Caius whips out a piece of paper and writes a note to Evans, in which he calls him a "scurvy jackanape priest" and threatens to cut out his '"two stones." Yeah, that probably means what you think it means. 
  • Mistress Quickly points out that Evans was asking on behalf of a friend, but Caius doesn't care. He'll kill the priest anyway. 
  • Caius threatens to throw Mistress Quickly out of his house if she doesn't get Anne Page to marry him.
  • Then he storms out while Mistress Quickly mutters under her breath about Caius being an "ass-head." Hey, we didn't write it.
  • Before we know it, a guy named Master Fenton shows up and we find out that, you guessed it, Mistress Quickly has also agreed to help him pursue Anne Page. Mistress Quickly may have a little too much on her plate, don't you think?
  • Quickly tells Fenton what he wants to hear: that Anne is in love with him.
  • Seriously, Fenton? Just the other day, you guys spent an hour talking about that sexy wart above your eye. (We're not kidding.)
  • Fenton gives Mistress Quickly a bunch of money for helping him and she promises to talk him up the next time she sees Anne.
  • Fenton leaves.
  • Alone on stage, Quickly confesses to the audience that Fenton's a nice guy but she knows for a fact that "Anne loves him not."

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