Study Guide

The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 2, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

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Act 2, Scene 2

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

  • Over at the Garter Inn, Falstaff refuses to loan money to Pistol, who, apparently, is always asking Falstaff for spare change.
  • Pistol draws his sword and yells "Why then, the world's mine oyster, / which I with sword will open." (Translation: Pistol is penniless so he's going to use his sword to make his fortune in the world.)
  • Brain Snack: This is the first time this phrase appears in print so, Shakespeare either invented it or, at the very least, made it popular (source). But not as popular as Chess.
  • Falstaff gets up in Pistol's face and says he's tired of always having to bail out Pistol when the guy gets caught stealing.
  • Then he orders Pistol to scram and yells at him for refusing to deliver his letter to the "merry wives."
  • Pistol backs down. In case you hadn't noticed, Pistol is a hothead (duh, he's named after a firearm), but he's all talk.
  • Just in time, Mistress Quickly shows up with messages for Falstaff from Mistress Page and Mistress Ford.
  • She takes Falstaff aside and whispers that Mistress Ford is down for a secret rendezvous and that her hubby will be away the next morning between 10 and 11. (Hint, hint.) Falstaff is so totally there.
  • Then, Quickly relays a separate message from Mistress Page, who says she wants a steamy hookup with Falstaff but doesn't yet know when her husband will be away.
  • Falstaff wants to know if the two housewives know that he's trying to get with both of them.
  • Mistress Quickly's all "Of course not! They're totally clueless!" Snicker.
  • It's decided that Falstaff's boy servant (Robin) will act as a go-between for Falstaff and the wives.
  • Falstaff gives Mistress Quickly a little monetary tip just before she runs off.
  • Pistol is not happy that Falstaff just gave Mistress Quickly some money. He calls her a "punk," which is fun Elizabethan slang for "whore," and storms off.
  • Bardolph the bartender enters and announces that a guy named "Brooke" is here. (Remember, "Brooke" is Master Ford in disguise.)
  • "Brooke" wants to buy Falstaff a "morning draught of sack." ("Sack" is Falstaff's favorite sweet wine and, apparently, it's never too early in the morning for a drink. Hey, they call it an "eye-opener" for a reason.)
  • Brooke/Ford enters and offers Falstaff a huge bag of money to help him with a little problem he's having.
  • Brooke/Ford says that he's been trying to hook up with Mistress Ford for-e-ver but she's too faithful to cheat on her husband.
  • Falstaff's all "Really? Tell me more about this."
  • Brooke/Page wants Falstaff to seduce her, paving the way for "Brooke" to have an affair with her.
  • Falstaff thinks "Jackpot!" and snatches up the bag of money Brooke/Ford offers.
  • And now Falstaff reveals that he's actually just set up an appointment to hop in bed with Mistress Ford so, this assignment's going to be a piece of cake.
  • Then Falstaff talks trash about Ford and calls him a "poor cuckoldy knave." (A "cuckold" is a guy whose wife cheats on him and a "knave" is an idiot.)
  • Left alone on stage, Master Ford is furious. He delivers a creepy soliloquy about getting revenge against Falstaff and his wife.
  • Here's a little sample of what he says:
  • "See the hell of having a false woman! My bed shall be abused, my coffers ransacked, my reputation gnawn at." Yikes! (By the way, a soliloquy is just a speech that reveals a character's innermost thoughts. Characters like Master Ford and Hamlet are big on soliloquies.)

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