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The Merry Wives of Windsor

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,407 Ratings  ·  320 Reviews
At the request of the Queen, Shakespeare wrought this farce starring Sir John Falstaff of his HENRY IV plays, here transplanted from the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, where he attempts to seduce two wealthy married women who are a bit too smart for him. Director Clive Brill has orchestrated a rousing production that concentrates on clarity. Though a trifle short on p ...more
Audio CD, Arkangel Complete Shakespeare
Published July 28th 2005 by AudioGO (first published 1597)
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Bill  Kerwin

Okay, I finished it. After all these years, the only Shakespeare play I could never get interested in is finally completed. I read every word of it, and I am sure I'll never read it again.

It's not that bad, really--if you like bedroom farces punched up with dialect humor, second-rate puns and third-rate malapropisms. I found it pretty dreary, and the humor of Falstaff--which I looked forward to as a small refreshing pool in the middle of all this sand--is a pale shadow of his wit in Henry IV.
Cindy Rollins
Jun 11, 2015 Cindy Rollins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Shakespeare's bawdy plays and it is quite silly but it is also highly entertaining. I love the way Shakespeare has different classes of people use words differently often leading to misunderstanding.

The story swirls around one of Shakespeare's favorite characters-Falstaff. Falstaff is a well-developed character who consistently misunderstands himself.

While this is a jolly comedy it is probably not one for the family since its plot centers on adultery or at least the idea that it
Dec 03, 2015 J.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, british
December of Drama 2015, day three

"Come, come, sir. I'm a man who would rather be known as a cuckold than a fool!"

Alright, so that line's from Barry Lyndon, but I thought it appropriate. This is a bedroom farce, with two married middle-class men (Ford and Page) mostly distinguished from each other by the presence or absence of jealousy, and their 'Merry' wives who repeatedly trick and humiliate Falstaff, their would-be lover. I happen to love a little dramatic irony, so the scene(s) where Ford di
Sep 09, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2015
I read this to prep for seeing the play this week. I have never read or seen this play, and thought it wouldn't hurt to go in knowing the story.

The Folger Shakespeare Library editions are laid out nicely. Every page of the play has a facing page that explains the more inscrutable phrases. The introductory sections were brief but interesting, and there are recommendations for further reading in the back, along with an essay about the play.
If I ever feel the need to study before going out to enjoy
Jul 11, 2014 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Objectively, there's a lot of humor in it: puns, one liners, situational comedy, slapstick, etc. Some of it is rather clever, but most of it didn't strike me as very funny. Not sure if it's just not my kind of humor, or maybe it was funnier to members of Elizabethan society than to modern folks (in other words, "you just had to be there"). For instance, making fun of foreigners' accents is less acceptable now.

I still didn't care for Falstaff much, but it was kind of fun to see him get his comeup
Jun 03, 2016 Teodora rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare
One of Shakespeare's weakest comedies , but also very funny .It inspired opera Falstaff by Verdi .
Jul 23, 2011 §-- rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare, plays
The version I read was plain text, not annotated. Lots of jokes over my head here.

Lots of others, however, did not; and it's a great play. While many think that this play is undeserving of Falstaff, I find that here he reaches a supreme level of comedy, the kind of cruel comedy that is both funny yet moves us to pity, such as Lazarillo de Tormes, Don Quixote, and Malvolio. These characters show us ourselves (striving, selfish, low, weak, decidedly unheroic), yet also repulse us. It's a great ach
Bruce Snell
Apr 01, 2013 Bruce Snell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw a stage performance of this play a few years ago in Utah at the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, and decided it would be among the first I read when I began reading Shakespeare's plays. This is a comedy, in fact, a farce, that left me laughing out loud in the theater, and was almost as funny in print. In this play we find John Falstaff (from Henry IV) attempting to seduce two married women, who just happen to be friends and turn the tables on him. There is also a subplot about Master an ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adore Shakespeare. I’ve read at least half of his works. I’ve seen dozens of his plays performed. In college I took a class completely devoted to learning how to read and interpret his writing. I’ve visited the Globe in England and every time I read a new play of his I find a new reason to love his work.

His writing isn’t perfect. He ripped story lines from others and his plays can be repetitive. He can be long-winded when he wants to, but all-in-all, there’s more brilliance than hot air there.
Oct 20, 2015 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays and having finally read it I can't see why more is not made of it! This is so great -- not only funny and entertaining, but gives a glimpse into Shakespeare's provincial roots and the small town life. Decidedly feminist, it would make a fine addition to many university studies.

Do not let the first few pages intimidate you. There are a lot of dialects and colloquial jokes that seem strage. Once I got used to the rhythm of the words I thought this p

I have to admit that I had a really hard time getting into The Merry Wives of Windsor. Maybe I'm sick of Falstaff, maybe I need to pick up a tragedy instead of a comedy for once, maybe I need to just chill and take a break from the Bard. Any way I look at it doesn't change that fact that I didn't really care for this particular play.

The confusing thing for me is that this is a well-written play, and it's certainly meant to be bawdy and fun. I really do get that. But something just didn't c
Aug 19, 2016 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare, plays
Two wives having fun at the expense of all the men and a daughter defying her parents' wishes and choosing her own husband, what's not to love? Makes a nice change from all those Greek and Roman comedies where the "happy" ending is when the girl who has no agency and no lines gets to marry her rapist. And also old fave John Falstaff from the Henry plays and plenty of Ovid references <3
I had been told by my Favorite Professor that this play kinda sucked. And he was right. The plot is repetitive and the characters (other than a few) are fairly stock. What saves this play from being a total dud?

Falstaff. I admit that I'm biased. Falstaff is favorite of all of Shakespeare's characters and so any play that includes him wins points automatically. He's roughish without being loathsome, and his ability to admit he deserves what he got is at least somewhat admirable. Mistress Quickly
Apr 03, 2015 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Clearly an earlier Shakespeare play. I liked seeing Falstaff in a different light, not in one of the history plays as comic relief but as a main character in a comedy, one being (unjustly?) abused and made a mockery of. The language isn't as beautiful as I've come to expect from Shakespeare, but I enjoyed the wordplay and the use of language as a theme. Dr. Caius is French, Sir Hugh Evans is Welsh, and they both misuse English in a comical way. It seems smart and ahead of its time to pl
SCHOLARS, PROFESSORS, EXPERTS AND GENERALLY EVERYONE YOU SHOULD TRUST ABOUT SHAKESPEARE: The Merry Wives of Windsor is, clearly, one of Shakespeare's weakest plays, due to what we can only hope was rushed writing and little revision. The uninteresting characters stumble around what we can barely call a plot, with tired, forced humour and a poor parody of one of Shakespeare's finest comedic characters, John Falstaff, to polish off this disaster of a play from our great Bard.

ME: This play is aweso
Nov 11, 2013 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-lit, plays
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?

Has Sir John Falstaff learned the humour of the age? to suffer tactics similar to his own, turning him into a pathetic minstrel unwittingly singing praises of his own demise? Perhaps his humour, as Nym would overly use the word, permeates the age across gender and social barriers. Mistres
This play is pure slapstick comedy. It reminds me of those good British comedy series… a sprinkling of Blackadder’s caustic wit, mixed with a dash of Compo’s antics from Last of the Summer Wine. Even though the play lacks the sophistication of Shakespeare’s other plays, in terms of theme, it’s still a lot of fun.

Falstaff’s the kind of guy you want to hate, because he’s old, fat and lecherous, a real sleaze always looking for new ways to make an easy buck—especially if the money comes from rich m
Liza Palmer
This play would probably be a lot of fun to see in the theater - I know that. I know that it's just a fun, bawdy romp and and and...

But, if you didn't like Falstaff the first time, Merry Wives is going to be a chore. And I didn't like Falstaff the first time.

Legend has it, that Queen Elizabeth loved the character and wanted him brought back - real legend has it that she said she wanted to see a play of "Falstaff in love." Urban legends all, but maybe?

So here we are in Pirates of the Caribbean
Micah Scelsi
Jul 26, 2014 Micah Scelsi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised to see so many poor reviews of this one, but maybe that is the mark of a great writer. The tricky thing about Shakespeare is that these are plays; they are nice to read, but really come off better in a good production. As far as his comedies go, I think this is one of the better ones for shear laughter. It is relatively short and funny. It has the normal miscommunication and ironic misunderstandings, but in general it is people playing a prank on one who deserves it. Better yet, ...more
Karolína Pavlíková
As many other Shakespeares plays, The merry wives of Windsor didnt disappoint me. I was really looking forward to read it and I can proudly say, it was worth it. The Shakespeares typical game with many storylines that all ended up really surprisingly (I mean like, if you knew, how it would end, Shakespeare still can make it curious) were here found too and spiced with as many interests as here could be. And thats awesome, if we consider the fact, the bard had about fourteen days to write it.
Paul Servini
Oct 09, 2014 Paul Servini rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre
Not the first time I've read this. I'm reading it now as part of a course on Shakespeare And His World. It's a light-hearted comedy featuring Falstaff, possibly written at Queen Elizabeth's request. Not one of my favourite plays by Shakespeare. The comedy is not always easy to grasp, especially due to some obscure puns.
I'm really whole-heartedly feeling that Shakespeare should be watched and not read. While I got the humor in good bits of this play, I think I would have grasped a lot more seeing it performed.
Those "merry wives" are pretty cunning and entertaining.
Gabe Lanciano
Mar 19, 2014 Gabe Lanciano rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for a Shakespeare course. I hated every moment of reading it. I was bored to tears. Nothing was funny, or interesting.
I usually really enjoy Shakespeare, but not this one. Imagine Everybody Loves Raymond in the 16th century and it's still not funny.
We read it because it was mildly autobiographical insofar as he came from a town much like Windsor. I didn't care. generally I think such things have no application when it comes to literary analysis. this was no different. Any in
Sayed Mohammad Mahdi Sadrnezhaad
Not that reach. Maybe for middle age English was maybe funny or revolutionary but there are reacher cultures and stories could not be compare with these cheap conversations and lake of story line. Sorry William, but this one upset me!
Steve Hemmeke
John Falstaff plans to seduce Mrs. Ford, who is married and rich and controls the purse strings. His servants betray him and tell her. She and her friend have a great time playing with Falstaff – inviting him over, pretending to want to be seduced, but then crying that Mr. Ford is coming. Hilarity ensues with Falstaff tossed in a ditch and beat up dressed as a woman. In the end they both show themselves, with their husbands and friends, rebuking and scorning Falstaff: “Serve Got and leave your d ...more
Apr 15, 2016 Malvina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't realise there was another play apart from Henry IV that had Falstaff as a character until I read and watched this. So that was a pleasant surprise, although his surrounding hangers-on (Bardolph, Pistol, Nim and Mistress Quickly) seem to have slightly different and somewhat neglected roles from the previous plays. Apparently written on the bequest of Queen Elizabeth I who wanted to see Falstaff in love. Heh. I wouldn't say he's 'in love' exactly, I don't think he's capable of it, but may ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Merry Wives" is generally loathed by scholars, and loved by audiences. The reason is not hard to detect. It is a non-serious and very funny play. Shakespeare wrote low comedy farce. GASP!
First off, the 3 star rating means as compared to other works of Shakespeare. I don't feel it fair to compare him to other writers. For the other writer's sake!
"Merry Wives" is a fast paced romp that would be much better to see than to read. The first act of this play frustrated me as reading no Shakespeare has
Harley Hegwood
Jan 29, 2016 Harley Hegwood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say, this had to be my favorite Shakespeare comedy out of them all.

My favorite character is hard to pick, because, frankly, they are all hilarious. I guess I'd have to go with Doctor Caius. His accent is over the top, in a comical way.

The symbolism with the four temperaments is as follows

Saguine: Cheerful, happy, joking. An example of this would be Mistress Quickly, who's also cheerful and making jokes.

Choleric: Blustery, proud, full of hot air. An example of this would be Falstaff, be
May 02, 2015 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare, drama
I can see how this is fun, especially on stage. Aptly titled, and I particularly enjoy the two wives, such good friends that they can roast each other while also supporting each other fully. So many characters, so much trickery, so much physical humor, and so much fun. Falstaff is ridiculous; though I am not sure that I believe he would be so ridiculous as to walk into these ruses in such a straight-forward manner, it sure is fun. It was fun to run into that phrase and see it in context: "Why, t ...more
Apr 03, 2015 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Sir John Falstaff, a rather dodgy character, decides to seduce a number of wealthy women in Windsor and make his fortune. He writes them identical letters but doesn't know the women are friends and discover his plan. They come up with a plan of their own to teach him a lesson. At the same one of their husbands learns of Falstaff's plan and tries to catch the two of them together. Meanwhile, the much younger Anne is being pursued by three men but loves another. There is duel and Falstaff is invol ...more
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more
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