Study Guide

The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 4, Scene 4

By William Shakespeare

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Act 4, Scene 4

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

  • Back at the Ford's house, the married couples have a good laugh about the pranks that have been played on Falstaff.
  • Ford apologizes to his wife and vows never to mistrust her again.
  • They all agree that the "merry wives" should punk Falstaff again, just to make sure he's learned his lesson about preying on honest housewives.
  • Mistress Page remembers an old folktale about "Herne the hunter," a spooky ghost that haunts Windsor Forest at night during the winter.
  • Apparently, "Herne the hunter" walks around an old oak tree at midnight, rattling his chains, bewitching the local cattle, and scaring the you-know-what out of the locals—especially old people who still believe in ghosts.
  • Mistress Ford suggests that they get Falstaff to wear a set of horns on his head (like "Herne the hunter") and meet them at the old haunted oak at midnight. (We have no idea why Falstaff would want to do that but, we just have to go along with Shakespeare on this one.)
  • Mistress Page says she'll get her son and daughter and a bunch of little kids to dress up like "urchins, oafs, and fairies" to scare Falstaff by singing some crazy song and pinching him until he confesses that he's been trying to seduce Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. Falstaff will be totally humiliated in front of EVERYONE. Good times!
  • Evans volunteers to be the children's drama coach and runs off to help them get ready.
  • Meanwhile, Ford runs off to buy costumes and masks for the kids.
  • Page is totally psyched. He makes plans to use the prank as an opportunity to help Slender elope with Anne during all the confusion. Mistress Page has a similar idea.
  • Since Anne will be wearing a disguise during the prank, she thinks it's the perfect time for Caius to run away with her without anybody noticing.
  • This is going to work out well.

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