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Scene by Scene Synopsis

Scene:  Windsor, and the neighborhood

Act I, Scene 1:  Shallow in Windsor to sue Falstaff, confers with his young relative Slender and the local parson, the Welshman Evans, Shallow boasts that his noble ancestry is equal to Falstaff's and Evans offers to arbitrate the quarrel.  Slender mentions his inclination to marry, and Evans suggest Anne Page, an attractive young woman who has just inherited some money.  Shallow suggests that they call on her father, George Page, whom, Evans says, Falstaff is also visiting.  They knock on Page's door and speak with him briefly; Falstaff emerges with Bardolph, Nym and Pistol.  Shallow accuses Falstaff o assaulting his men, poaching deer, and breaking into his hunting lodge.  Falstaff grandly admits to these deeds and asserts that if Shallow takes the case to the king's council, he will be laughed at.  Slender adds that Falstaff's companions have robbed him.  They deny it.  Evans insists that he, Page, and the Host of the local tavern shall form a committee to settle these disputes.  Mistress Page, Anne and Mistress Ford appear with refreshments, and everyone goes indoors except the nervous Slender.  Shallow and Evans emerge to say that his marriage to Anne has been proposed.  Anne enters to summon the men to dinner, and Shallow and Evans leave her with Slender.  Slender is too embarrassed to go in with her, and he makes awkward conversation until Page comes out and insists.

Act I. Scene 2:  Evans sends Slender's servant, Simple, to the house of Dr. Caius with a letter for his housekeeper.  Mistress Quickly, asking her to encourage Anne Page to marry Slender. 

Act I, Scene 3:  Falstaff persuades the tavern's Host to lure Bardolph as a tapster.  He tells Pistol and Nym of his plans to get money, he will seduce both Mistress Ford and Mistress Page.  He believes that each woman has found him attractive, and he knows that each controls her family's funds.  He has written letters to the, and he asks his followers to deliver them.  However, they spurn such a task as unworthy of soldiers, and he dismisses the, giving the letters to his page, Robin, and then leaving.  Pistol and Nym decide to avenge their dismissal by telling ford and Page of Falstaff's intentions. 

Act 1, Scene 4:  Mistress Quickly tells Simple that she will assist Slender courtship.  As Dr. Caius' approach, Quickly puts Simple in the closet.  The irritable Caius finds him and when he tells of his errand, the doctor rages against Evans for sending him, for he-Caius-intends to marry Anne Page himself.  Caius writes a letter challenging Evans to a duel and sends simple back with it.  Caius leaves, and Fenton appears.  Quickly assures him that his courtship of Anne is going well.  Pleased, he gives her money and asks for continuing assistance. 

Act II, Scene 1:  Mistress Page reads Falstaff's love letter.  She feels insulted, as does Mistress Ford, who appears with a similar letter.  The two women plot revenge: they will tempt Falstaff to spend his money courting them-to no avail-until he is bankrupt.  Mistress Ford is particularly irritate with Falstaff because of her husband's quick jealousy.  The two women withdraw to discuss their plot, and their husbands appear, accompanied by Pistol and Nym.  They tell the husbands that Falstaff is pursuing their wives, and they leave.  The wives reappear as Mistress Quickly arrives, and they decide to employ her as their messenger to Falstaff; the three women leave together.  Page and Ford talk"  Peg doesn't believe the stories of Pistol and Nym, but Ford is worried,  The Host and Shallow enter on their way to oversee the duel between Caius and Evans.  Shallow tells Page of a plan to interfere with the duel.  Ford bribes the Host to introduce him to Falstaff as 'Brook'.  He says to himself that he will see what he an find out about Falstaff and his wife.

Act II, Scene 2:  Quickly delivers messages from the wives to Falstaff.  Mistress Page writes of her desire for a meeting, but Mistress Ford makes an appointment for that morning.  Quickly leaves, and Ford, disguised as 'Brook', arrives.  'Brook gives Falstaff a gift of money and confesses that he has fallen in love with Ford's wife but that her marital fidelity puts him off.  He therefore asks Falstaff to seduce her so that he-'Brook'-may catch her in adultery and thus justify his own advances.  Falstaff accepts the bargain: he tells 'Brook' of his appointment with Mistress Ford for that very morning and he leaves Ford soliloquizes jealously and vows revenge.

Act II, Scene 3:  Dr. Caius awaits the arrival of Evans to start the duel.  Instead, the Host, Shallow, Slender, and Page appear.  All but Slender (who only pines over Anne Page) talk with the doctor, complimenting him on his valor, while pointing out the good fortune that has kept him from having to kill Evans, who has been sent elsewhere to duel and they will meet later.  He then Caius that he will take him to visit Anne Page.

Act III, Scene 1:  Evans awaits the arrival of Dr. Caius to start the duel Page, Shallow, and Slender arrive, and Evans heaps insults on Dr. Caius.  The Host appears with Caius.  The two would be duelists argue over where they were to meet, and the Host reveals that he misled them; he proposes that they be friends again.  Evans suggests to Caius that they unite in seeking vengeance on the Host, who has made fools of them both.  Caius agrees, and they become allies.

Act III, Scene 2:  Ford encounters Mistress Page, accompanied by Robin, who is on loan from Falstaff.  He believes that the situation confirms the infidelity of both women.  He proposes to himself to unmask Falstaff, disillusion Page, and punish his wife all at once,  The group returning from the averted duel appears, and Ford invites them to his house, although Shallow and Slender go to call on Anne Page.  Page remarks that he favors Slender as a son-in-law, while his wife prefers Caius.  He rejects Fenton as a suitor, observing that the young aristocrat-too high ranking to marry Anne-is probably a fortune-hunter, being poor despite his rank and is notably dissolute, having been friends with Prince Hal and Poins (of 1 and 2 Henry IV).

Act III, Scene 3 The wives lay their plan: they instruct two servants to be ready to carry away a big basket of laundry and dump it in the river.  Falstaff arrives and woos Mistress Ford; mistress Page appears, and Falstaff hides behind the curtains.  Mistress Page announces that an angry Ford is approaching, seeing his wife's lover.  Falstaff leaps from his hiding place into the laundry basket, which the two Servants carry out as Ford enters.  Ford searches the house, watched by Page, Evans, and Caius, who assert that he is foolish.  Left together, the two wives exult over Falstaff's discomfiture and decide to try it again the next morning.  Unable to find any lover in the house, Ford admits his error.  Page invites the men to hawking the next morning.  Evans and Caius confer about their revenge on the Host.

Act III, Scene 4:  Anne and Fenton to continue to try to befriend her father before they think of elopement.  Quickly arrives with Shallow and Slender.  Slender is bashful, but Shallow leaves him to talk with Anne.  Anne asks him low leaves him to talk with Anne.  Anne asks him frankly what his intentions are, and he replies that he himself has none but that others say he should marry her.  Anne's parents arrive and announce their approval of Slender's suit and disparage Fenton's presence.  Page and Slender leave.  Fenton appeals to Mistress Page to support his loving courtship, and Anne state her dislike of both Slender and Caius. Mistress relents to the point of promising to consult with Anne, an the two women leave.  Quickly takes credit for softening Mistress Page, and Fenton give her some money.  She soliloquizes that having promised to help all three suitors, she will do so, but she favors Fenton.

Act III, Scene 5:  Falstaff laments having been dumped in the river.  Quickly brings him an apologetic message from Mistress Ford, who extends another invitation for that morning, while her husband is hawking.  Ford arrives, again disguised as 'Brook'.  Falstaff tells of his escape in the laundry and of his new opportunity.  He leaves, and ford rages, angrily that this time he will catch Falstaff in his house.

Act IV, Scene 1:  Evans drills young William Page in his Latin grammar, and Quickly listens with comical misunderstanding.

Act IV, Scene 2:  Falstaff calls on Mistress Ford, and once again Mistress Page arrives, sending him into hiding:  Again, she tells of Ford's angry approach. The wives disguise Falstaff as the old woman of Brainford, a reputed witch whom Ford particularly despises.  Ford arrives with a group of witnesses and ransacks the laundry in search of Falstaff; then in his fury he drives the 'old woman' from the house, beating 'her' mercilessly.  He begins to search the house once more, and in his absence the wives decide to tell their husbands of their campaign against Falstaff so that all four may participate in another round of imposture.

Act IV, Scene 3:  Bardolph informs the Host that the agents of a German count, soon to arrive at the King's court, wish to hire horses.   The Host agree to let them use his, proposing to overcharge them.

Act IV, Scene 4:  The Pages and Fords, with Evans, concoct a plot against Falstaff.  They will arrange to have the fat knight meet the women at an ancient sacred oak in the woods at midnight, disguised as a mythological creature.  Hearne the Hunter, who wears stag's antlers.  When he arrives at the rendezvous, he will be accosted by a group of Children disguised as fairies and elves led by Anne.  They will pinch him and ridicule him until he admits his shabby dealings.  Then all the hidden adults will emerge to mock him.  As they lay their plans, Ford muses to himself that he may take advantage of the occasion t spirit Anne away with Slender and have them married.  Mistress Ford plots similarly with Dr. Caius in mind.

Act IV, Scene 5:  Simple has followed the woman of Brainford to Falstaff's rooms to ask her question on behalf of his master.  Falstaff says that he has spoken with the witch and he gives Simple trick answers when he asks about Slender's chances of winning Anne Page.  Bardolph reports to the Host that the Germans have mad off with the horses;  Evans and then Caius arrive with warnings that the Germans are not to be trusted.  Realizing that he has been robbed, the Host rages and rushes off. Quickly appears with a message to Falstaff from the two wives, and he takes her to his chamber to hear their proposition in detail.

Act IV, Scene 6:  Fenton bribes the Host to help him.  Anne has learned that her parent's respective schemes, an the two lovers have hatched a counterplot.  The Host agrees to arrange for a minister to marry the couple that night.

Act V, Scene 1:  Falstaff sends Quickly to prepare for his masquerade that night, just as Ford arrives, disguised as 'Brook' Falstaff assures him that tonight all they ha planned will be accomplished. 

Act V, Scene 2:  Page, shallow, and lender lie in wait, planning for Slender's elopement with Anne.

Act V, Scene 3 The wives, with Caius, lie in  wait, planning for the doctor's elopement with Anne.

Act V, Scene 4: Evans and the Children lie in wait,  planning to accost Falstaff.

Act V, Scene 5:  Falstaff, disguised as Hearne the Hunter, arrives at the rendezvous point and compares himself with Jupiter, who took the forms of animals for sexual purposes.  The wives appear; Falstaff is jubilant, thinking that his liaison is finally to occur, but the women hear a noise and flee.  Evans and the Children, with Pistol and Quickly, all disguised as fairies and elves, come out and conduct a ceremony.  They then torment Falstaff, burning him with their candles and pinching him.  Slender and Caius arrive, and each steals away with a different fairy; Fenton takes Anne, Page, Ford and the wives come forward and reveal their hoax to Falstaff, who is mortified.  Slender returns to complain his intended bride has proved o be a boy.  Caius appears with the same story.  Fenton and Anne return and explain that they have married.  The Pages make the best of it and accept Fenton as their son-in-law.  In a conciliatory spirit of fellowship.  Falstaff is invited to join the others in a festive celebration at the Ford household.


To view other The Merry Wives of Windsor sections:

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All's Well the Ends Well Antony & Cleopatra As You Like It Cardenio Comedy of Errors Coriolanus
Cymbeline Edward III Hamlet Henry IV, Part 1 Henry IV, Part 2 Henry V
Henry VI, Part 1 Henry VI, Part 2 Henry VI, Part 3 Henry VIII Julius Caesar King John
King Lear Loves Labour's Lost Loves Labour's Wonne Macbeth Measure for Measure Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor A Mid Summer Night's Dream  Much Ado About Nothing Othello Pericles Richard II
Richard III Romeo & Juliet Sir Thomas More Taming of the Shrew The Tempest Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus Troilus & Cressida Twelfth Night Two Gentlemen of Verona The Two Noble Kinsman The Winter's Tale


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