The Merry Wives of Windsor: Difference between revisions

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[[Category: Comedies]]
[[Category: Comedies]]
[[Category: The Merry Wives of Windsor]]
[[Category: The Merry Wives of Windsor]]
[[Category: 17th century]]
[[Category: Early Modern drama]]

Revision as of 13:37, 22 July 2014

In The Merry Wives of Windsor, one of William Shakespeare's plays, Shakespeare's "merry wives" are Mistress Ford and Mistress Page of the town of Windsor. The two play practical jokes on Mistress Ford's jealous husband and a visiting knight, Sir John Falstaff.

Merry wives, jealous husbands, and predatory knights were common in a kind of play called "citizen comedy" or "city comedy." In such plays, courtiers, gentlemen, or knights use social superiority to seduce citizens' wives.

The Windsor wives, though, do not follow that patter. Instead, Falstaff's offer of himself as lover inspires their torment of him. Falstaff responds with the same linguistic facility that Shakespeare gives him in the history plays in which he appears, making him the "hero" of the play for many audiences.

Scholars think Shakespeare wrote this play between 1597 and 1601. It was published as a quarto in 1602. A fuller, more readable text appeared in the 1623 First Folio in 1623. Sources likely included a story for Ser Giovanni Fiorentino's Il Pecorone (The Dunce) and Tarltons Newes out of Purgatorie.[1]

Productions at the Folger

Early editions

First Folio

LUNA: First Folio: D2r - E6v
Hamnet: STC 22273 Fo.1 no. 68

Second Folio

LUNA: Second Folio: D2r - E6v
Hamnet: STC 22274 Fo. 2 no. 07

First Quarto

LUNA: First Quarto
Hamnet: STC 22299

Second Quarto

LUNA: Second Quarto
Hamnet: STC 22300 Copy 1

Third Quarto

LUNA: Third Quarto
Hamnet: STC 22301

Modern editions

Merry Wives of Windsor Folger Edition.jpg

The Merry Wives of Windsor can be read online with Folger Digital Texts and purchased from Simon and Schuster.

Hamnet link to Folger Edition: PR2753 .M6 2003 copy 2 v.24

In popular culture


Performance materials

Other media



  1. Adapted from the Folger Library Shakespeare edition, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. © 2004 Folger Shakespeare Library.