The Merry Wives of Windsor


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Falstaff disguised as Herne, with a buck's

head upon him


FALSTAFF

The Windsor bell hath struck twelve; the

minute draws on. Now, the hot-blooded gods assist
hot-blooded (adj.) lecherous, passionate, lustful

me! Remember, Jove, thou wast a bull for thy Europa.

Love set on thy horns. O powerful love, that in some

respects makes a beast a man, in some other a man a

beast. You were also, Jupiter, a swan for the love of

Leda. O omnipotent love, how near the god drew to the

complexion of a goose! A fault done first in the form of a
complexion (n.) 1 appearance, look, colouring
fault (n.) 1 sin, offence, crime

beast – O Jove, a beastly fault – and then another fault

in the semblance of a fowl – think on't, Jove, a foul fault!

When gods have hot backs, what shall poor men do?
hot (adj.) 3 lecherous, lustful, hot-blooded

For me, I am here a Windsor stag, and the fattest, I

think, i'th'forest. Send me a cool rut-time, Jove, or who
rut-time (n.) mating season, time for sex

can blame me to piss my tallow? Who comes here?

My doe?

Enter Mistress Ford and Mistress Page


MISTRESS FORD

Sir John! Art thou there, my deer, my

male deer?


FALSTAFF

My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain
scut (n.) short tail [as of a deer]

potatoes. Let it thunder to the tune of ‘ Greensleeves,’
potato (n.) sweet potato, yam [regarded as an aphrodisiac]

hail kissing-comfits, and snow eringoes. Let there come
eringo (n.) candied sweetmeat from the sea holly [eryngium] believed to be an aphrodisiac
kissing-comfit (n.) perfumed sweetmeat for sweetening the breath

a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here.
provocation (n.) erotic stimulation, inciting lustful thoughts

He embraces her


MISTRESS FORD

Mistress Page is come with me,

sweetheart.


FALSTAFF

Divide me like a bribed buck, each a haunch.
bribed (adj.) stolen, thieved, poached

I will keep my sides to myself, my shoulders for the

fellow of this walk, and my horns I bequeath your
fellow (n.) 7 keeper, warden, forester
walk (n.) 2 area of a forest under the supervision of a forester

husbands. Am I a woodman, ha? Speak I like Herne
woodman (n.) hunter, huntsman

the Hunter? Why, now is Cupid a child of conscience;

he makes restitution. As I am a true spirit, welcome!

A noise of horns


MISTRESS PAGE

Alas, what noise?


MISTRESS FORD

Heaven forgive our sins!


FALSTAFF

What should this be?


MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE

Away, away!

They run off


FALSTAFF

I think the devil will not have me damned, lest

the oil that's in me should set hell on fire. He would

never else cross me thus.
cross (v.) 1 prevent, thwart, forestall

Enter Evans as a Satyr, Mistress Quickly as the

Queen of Fairies, Pistol as Hobgoblin, Anne Page and

boys as Fairies. They carry tapers


MISTRESS QUICKLY as Queen of Fairies

Fairies black, grey, green, and white,

You moonshine revellers, and shades of night,
shade (n.) 2 shadow, phantom, spirit

You orphan heirs of fixèd destiny,

Attend your office and your quality.
attend (v.) 8 see to, look after, apply oneself to
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count
quality (n.) 2 accomplishment, capacity, ability

Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes.
oyes, oyez (n.) hear ye [town crier's ‘Oyez’]


PISTOL as Hobgoblin

Elves, list your names; silence, you airy toys.
toy (n.) 6 flimsy being, insubstantial thing

Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap.
chimney (n.) fireplace, hearth

Where fires thou findest unraked and hearths unswept,

There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry.

Our radiant Queen hates sluts and sluttery.
sluttery (n.) 1 sluttishness, squalor, filthiness


FALSTAFF

They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall die.

I'll wink and couch; no man their works must eye.
couch (v.) 1 conceal, hide, lie hidden
wink (v.) 1 shut one's eyes

He lies down upon his face


EVANS as a Satyr

Where's Bead? Go you, and where you find a maid

That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayers said,

Raise up the organs of her fantasy,
fantasy (n.) 2 imagination, inventiveness, mental creativity
raise up (v.) stimulate, stir up, excite

Sleep she as sound as careless infancy.
careless (adj.) 1 carefree, unconcerned, untroubled

But those as sleep and think not on their sins,

Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides, and shins.


MISTRESS QUICKLY as Queen of Fairies

About, about!
about (adv.) 1 about your business, into action

Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out.

Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room,
ouph, oaf (n.) elf, elfen child, changeling

That it may stand till the perpetual doom
doom (n.) 2 final destiny, deciding fate, death and destruction

In state as wholesome as in state 'tis fit,
wholesome (adj.) 3 sound, firm, in good condition

Worthy the owner and the owner it.

The several chairs of order look you scour
chair (n.) 3 place of authority
look (v.) 3 take care, see, be sure
order (n.) 8 order of knighthood
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count

With juice of balm and every precious flower.
balm (n.) 3 aromatic plant, fragrant herb

Each fair instalment, coat, and several crest,
coat (n.) 1 coat-of-arms
crest (n.) 3 heraldic device placed above the shield and helmet in a coat-of-arms
instalment (n.) stall, seat where someone is installed

With loyal blazon, evermore be blest!
blazon (n.) 1 armorial bearing, banner showing a coat-of-arms

And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing,
nightly (adv.) at night, during the night

Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring.
compass (n.) 4 circlet, encircling band

Th'expressure that it bears, green let it be,
expressure (n.) 1 expression., picture, image

More fertile-fresh than all the field to see;

And Honi soit qui mal y pense write

In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue, and white,
tuft (n.) 2 bunch, cluster

Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,

Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee.

Fairies use flowers for their charactery.
charactery (n.) writing, letters, expression

Away, disperse! But till 'tis one o'clock,

Our dance of custom round about the oak
custom (n.) 1 habit, usual practice, customary usage

Of Herne the Hunter let us not forget.


EVANS as a Satyr

Pray you, lock hand in hand; yourselves in order set;

And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be,

To guide our measure round about the tree.
measure (n.) 8 slow stately dance, graceful movement

But stay – I smell a man of middle earth.
middle earth (n.) earth, seen as midway between heaven and hell


FALSTAFF

Heavens defend me from that Welsh fairy,

lest he transform me to a piece of cheese.


PISTOL as Hobgoblin

Vile worm, thou wast o'erlooked even in thy birth.
overlook (v.) 4 bewitch, subject to magic


MISTRESS QUICKLY as Queen of Fairies

With trial-fire touch me his finger-end.
trial-fire (n.) testing fire, ordeal by fire

If he be chaste, the flame will back descend

And turn him to no pain; but if he start,
start (v.) 1 jump, recoil, flinch
turn (v.) 10 bring, put

It is the flesh of a corrupted heart.


PISTOL as Hobgoblin

A trial, come.


EVANS as Satyr

                         Come, will this wood take fire?

They burn him with their tapers


FALSTAFF

O, O, O!


MISTRESS QUICKLY as Queen of Fairies

Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire!

About him, fairies, sing a scornful rhyme,

And, as you trip, still pinch him to your time.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

THE SONG
fantasy (n.) 5 ardent desire, amorous fancy

Fie on sinful fantasy!

Fie on lust and luxury!
luxury (n.) lust, lechery, lasciviousness

Lust is but a bloody fire,
bloody (adj.) 6 in the blood, in the veins

Kindled with unchaste desire,

Fed in heart, whose flames aspire,
aspire (v.) 1 ascend, rise up, climb [to]

As thoughts do blow them, higher and higher.

Pinch him, fairies, mutually,
mutually (adv.) all together, jointly

Pinch him for his villainy.

Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him about,

Till candles and starlight and moonshine be out.

During this song they pinch Falstaff; and Doctor

Caius comes one way, and steals away a boy in green;

Slender another way, and takes off a boy in white;

and Fenton comes, and steals away Anne Page. A noise

of hunting is made within; and all the Fairies run

away. Falstaff pulls off his buck's head, and rises up.

Enter Page, Ford, Mistress Page, and Mistress Ford


PAGE

Nay, do not fly; I think we have watched you now.
watch (v.) 5 keep in view, catch in the act

Will none but Herne the Hunter serve your turn?


MISTRESS PAGE

I pray you, come, hold up the jest no higher.
higher (adv.) 1 further, longer
hold up (v.) 1 continue, keep going, carry on

Now, good Sir John, how like you Windsor wives?

She points to the horns
yoke (n.) 3 horn, antler

See you these, husband? Do not these fair yokes

Become the forest better than the town?
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count


FORD

Now, sir, who's a cuckold now? Master Brook,
cuckold (n.) [mocking name] man with an unfaithful wife See Topics: Frequency count

Falstaff's a knave, a cuckoldy knave. Here are his
cuckoldy (adj.) cuckolded
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count

horns, Master Brook. And, Master Brook, he hath

enjoyed nothing of Ford's but his buck-basket, his
buck-basket (n.) basket for dirty laundry

cudgel, and twenty pounds of money, which must be

paid to Master Brook. His horses are arrested for it,
arrest (v.) 1 impound, confiscate, appropriate

Master Brook.


MISTRESS FORD

Sir John, we have had ill luck; we could
ill (adj.) 1 bad, adverse, unfavourable See Topics: Frequency count

never meet. I will never take you for my love again; but
meet (v.) 2 come together for love

I will always count you my deer.


FALSTAFF

I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass.


FORD

Ay, and an ox too. Both the proofs are extant.
ox (n.) fool, dupe


FALSTAFF

And these are not fairies? I was three or four

times in the thought they were not fairies; and yet the

guiltiness of my mind, the sudden surprise of my
surprise (n.) 1 taking by surprise, catching unawares

powers, drove the grossness of the foppery into a
foppery (n.) 2 foolish prank, hoax, deceit
grossness (n.) 1 flagrant nature, obviousness, enormity
power (n.) 8 faculty, function, ability

received belief, in despite of the teeth of all rhyme and
received (adj.) 1 definite, absolute, positive

reason, that they were fairies. See now how wit may be

made a Jack-a-Lent when 'tis upon ill employment.
ill (adj.) 1 bad, adverse, unfavourable See Topics: Frequency count
Jack-a-Lent (n.) [jocular; male figure used as an Aunt Sally during Lent] puppet, poppet, doll
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count


EVANS

Sir John Falstaff, serve Got and leave your desires,

and fairies will not pinse you.


FORD

Well said, fairy Hugh.


EVANS

And leave your jealousies too, I pray you.


FORD

I will never mistrust my wife again till thou art able

to woo her in good English.


FALSTAFF

Have I laid my brain in the sun and dried it,

that it wants matter to prevent so gross o'erreaching as
gross (adj.) 1 plain, striking, evident, obvious
matter (n.) 6 means, capacity, wherewithal
overreaching (n.) deception, exaggeration, fabrication
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

this? Am I ridden with a Welsh goat too? Shall I have
ride (v.), past forms rid, ridden 1 control, dominate, tyrannize

a coxcomb of frieze? 'Tis time I were choked with a
coxcomb (n.) 3 fool's cap [with a crest like a cock's crest] See Topics: Clothing
frieze (n.) type of rough woollen cloth

piece of toasted cheese.


EVANS

Seese is not good to give putter. Your belly is all

putter.


FALSTAFF

‘ Seese ’ and ‘ putter ’? Have I lived to stand at

the taunt of one that makes fritters of English? This is

enough to be the decay of lust and late-walking through
decay (n.) 1 destruction, downfall, ending
late-walking (n.) going out with whores late at night

the realm.


MISTRESS PAGE

Why, Sir John, do you think, though we

would have thrust virtue out of our hearts by the head

and shoulders, and have given ourselves without scruple

to hell, that ever the devil could have made you our

delight?


FORD

What, a hodge-pudding? A bag of flax?
hodge-pudding (n.) stuffing made of many ingredients


MISTRESS PAGE

A puffed man?
puffed (adj.) 1 increased, extended, stuffed


PAGE

Old, cold, withered, and of intolerable entrails?
intolerable (adj.) excessive, exorbitant, exceedingly great


FORD

And one that is as slanderous as Satan?


PAGE

And as poor as Job?


FORD

And as wicked as his wife?


EVANS

And given to fornications, and to taverns, and

sack, and wine, and metheglins, and to drinkings, and
metheglin (n.) [mi'theglin] strong spiced Welsh mead

swearings and starings, pribbles and prabbles?
pribbles and prabbles vain chatter and silly quarrelling
staring (n.) insulting stare, glaring, gawping


FALSTAFF

Well, I am your theme. You have the start of
start (n.) 3 advantage, edge, upper hand
theme (n.) 1 subject, subject-matter, topic of discourse

me. I am dejected. I am not able to answer the Welsh
dejected (adj.) cast down, abased, humbled

flannel. Ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me. Use me as
plummet (n.) weighted line used for measuring the depth of water

you will.


FORD

Marry, sir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to one

Master Brook, that you have cozened of money, to whom
cozen (v.) cheat, dupe, trick, deceive

you should have been a pander. Over and above that
pander, pandar (n.) pimp, procurer, go-between

you have suffered, I think to repay that money will be a

biting affliction.


PAGE

Yet be cheerful, knight. Thou shalt eat a posset
posset (n.) restorative hot drink, made of milk, liquor, and other ingredients

tonight at my house, where I will desire thee to laugh at

my wife that now laughs at thee. Tell her Master Slender

hath married her daughter.


MISTRESS PAGE

(aside)

Doctors doubt that. If Anne Page

be my daughter, she is, by this, Doctor Caius's wife.

Enter Slender


SLENDER

Whoa ho, ho, father Page!


PAGE

Son, how now? How now, son? Have you
dispatch, despatch (v.) 1 deal with promptly, settle, get [something] done quickly

dispatched?


SLENDER

Dispatched? I'll make the best in Gloucestershire

know on't. Would I were hanged, la, else!


PAGE

Of what, son?


SLENDER

I came yonder at Eton to marry Mistress Anne

Page, and she's a great lubberly boy. If it had not been
lubberly (n.) clumsy, loutish, oafish

i'th'church, I would have swinged him, or he should
swing (v.) beat, thrash, wallop

have swinged me. If I did not think it had been Anne

Page, would I might never stir! And 'tis a postmaster's

boy.


PAGE

Upon my life, then, you took the wrong.
wrong (n.) 4 wrong course of action


SLENDER

What need you tell me that? I think so, when I

took a boy for a girl. If I had been married to him, for all

he was in woman's apparel, I would not have had him.
apparel (n.) clothes, clothing, dress See Topics: Frequency count


PAGE

Why, this is your own folly. Did not I tell you how

you should know my daughter by her garments?


SLENDER

I went to her in white, and cried ‘ mum,’ and

she cried ‘ budget,’ as Anne and I had appointed. And

yet it was not Anne, but a postmaster's boy.


MISTRESS PAGE

Good George, be not angry. I knew of

your purpose, turned my daughter into green; and
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

indeed she is now with the Doctor at the deanery, and

there married.

Enter Doctor Caius
cozen (v.) cheat, dupe, trick, deceive


CAIUS

Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, I am cozened. I ha'

married un garçon, a boy; un paysan, by gar, a boy. It is

not Anne Page. By gar, I am cozened.


MISTRESS PAGE

Why? Did you take her in green?


CAIUS

Ay, by gar, and 'tis a boy. By gar, I'll raise all
raise (v.) 2 rouse, stir up, call to arms

Windsor.

Exit


FORD

This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne?


PAGE

My heart misgives me. Here comes Master Fenton.
misgive (v.) 1 make one feel uneasy, cause one to be apprehensive

Enter Fenton and Anne Page

How now, Master Fenton?


ANNE

Pardon, good father. Good my mother, pardon.


PAGE

Now, mistress, how chance you went not with
chance (v.) 1 happen [to], transpire, come about

Master Slender?


MISTRESS PAGE

Why went you not with Master Doctor, maid?


FENTON

You do amaze her. Hear the truth of it.
amaze (v.) 1 confuse, perplex, bewilder

You would have married her most shamefully

Where there was no proportion held in love.
proportion (n.) 3 weighing up, appropriate measuring

The truth is, she and I, long since contracted,
contract (v.) 4 betrothe, engage

Are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us.
dissolve (v.) 2 separate, part, break up
sure (adj.) 5 betrothed, joined, bound

Th'offence is holy that she hath committed,

And this deceit loses the name of craft,
craft (n.) 3 cunning, deceit, guile
deceit (n.) deception, stratagem, trick

Of disobedience, or unduteous title,
title (n.) 3 name, label, designation
unduteous (adj.) undutiful, unfilial, disloyal

Since therein she doth evitate and shun
evitate (v.) avoid, avert, get away from

A thousand irreligious cursed hours

Which forcèd marriage would have brought upon her.


FORD

Stand not amazed. Here is no remedy.
amazed (adj.) dumbfounded, stunned, thunderstruck, overwhelmed
stand (v.) 2 continue, remain, wait, stay put

In love the heavens themselves do guide the state.

Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.


FALSTAFF

I am glad, though you have ta'en a special

stand to strike at me, that your arrow hath glanced.
glance (v.) 2 miss the mark, be ineffective
stand (n.) 1 [hunting] standing-place, hiding-place


PAGE

Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven give thee joy!

What cannot be eschewed must be embraced.
eschew (v.) avoid, escape, prevent


FALSTAFF

When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chased.


MISTRESS PAGE

Well, I will muse no further. Master Fenton,
muse (v.) 5 grumble, moan

Heaven give you many, many merry days.

Good husband, let us every one go home,

And laugh this sport o'er by a country fire;
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

Sir John and all.


FORD

                         Let it be so. Sir John,

To Master Brook you yet shall hold your word,

For he tonight shall lie with Mistress Ford.

Exeunt

 
  Previous scene
--%>