Study Guide

The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 2, Scene 1

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Act 2, Scene 1

Read the full text of The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 2 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Over at the Page's house, Mistress Page reads Falstaff's steamy love letter, which sounds a lot like this:
  • Dear Mistress Page: I love you, baby. We should get together for the following reasons: (1) We're both old, (2) we both like to have a good time, and (3) we both really like to drink. What do you say? XOXO, Your Knight in Shining Armor
  • (We can't prove this, but we're pretty sure Falstaff also sent over a retro mixtape with these songs: "Sexy and I Know It," "Moves Like Jagger," and "Let's Get it On.")
  • Mistress Page is outraged that Falstaff thinks he can get her to cheat on her husband, because what is she, some kind of desperate housewife? And she vows to get revenge. Obviously.
  • Mistress Ford shows up and she's all worked up into a tizzy. Can you guess why?
  • The two besties soon realize that Falstaff has sent them identical letters and merely switched out their names.
  • How rude!
  • So, they decide to punk Falstaff by pretending to like him so they can humiliate him in public.
  • Mistress Ford declares that if her jealous husband saw Falstaff's letter, he'd go nuts. (Do you still have that highlighter, kids? That's important.)
  • Mistress Page tells us that, unlike Ford, her husband is never jealous.
  • Speaking of jealous husbands, here's Master Ford—along with Master Page, Pistol, and Nim. Get ready, because there's going to be a lot of running around for a few minutes.
  • The wives run inside before they're spotted.
  • We find out that Pistol and Nim have just tattled to the husbands about Falstaff.
  • At first, Ford is in shock. He's all, "Are you sure he wants my wife? She's kind of old." (Boy, that Ford sure is a charmer.)
  • Master Page thinks Pistol and Nim are full of baloney and says he doesn't believe a word they say.
  • Meanwhile, Ford has had a chance to think things over and decides he's going to confront Falstaff.
  • We can practically see the steam coming out of his ears.
  • The wives come back and notice that Master Ford seems just a tad bit upset.
  • When Ford's wife asks him what's wrong, he snaps that she should just go home. ASAP.
  • Mistress Quickly shows up and the "merry wives" decide to use her in their plot to teach Falstaff a lesson. The women go inside the house to work out the details of their evil genius plan.
  • Meanwhile, Ford is getting hotter and hotter about Falstaff, which is sort of hilarious since he has no reason to get so worked up.
  • Then the Host shows up at Page's house. He's in a good mood so Page thinks he's probably been drinking.
  • Shallow shows up, too, and tells us that Caius and Evans are going to throw down at Windsor Park. Fight! Fight!
  • The Host is supposed to referee but he's decided to have a little fun with Caius and Evans instead. He's sent each man to a different part of the park so they'll be waiting for hours for the other guy to show up.
  • Shallow asks Page to come watch the action with him, and they step aside to talk about it. 
  • Meanwhile, Ford and the Host also talk privately. Ford says he's going to wear a disguise and show up at the Garter Inn, where he wants the Host to introduce him to Falstaff as a guy named "Brooke." Just for fun. Honest. 
  • Note: In some editions of the play, the fake name is "Broome," not "Brooke." This might be because "Brooke" was the name of a powerful family in Elizabethan England and they may have pressured the publisher of the 1623 folio edition to change the name (source).
  • Left alone on stage, Ford tells us that he's going to find out if his wife's a cheater, and that Page is an idiot for being so trusting.

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