The Merry Wives of Windsor
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The Merry Wives of Windsor

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  4,731 ratings  ·  206 reviews
Each edition includes:

• Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
• Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
• Scene-by-scene plot summaries
• A key to famous lines and phrases
• An introduction to reading Shakespeare's language
• An essay by an...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Simon & Schuster (first published April 1597)
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Si dice che la regina gradì così tanto la figura di Falstaff in Henry IV, che le venne voglia di vederlo coinvolto in trame amorose e così chiese che venisse scritta una commedia in cui questo personaggio apparisse nelle vesti di innamorato o donnaiolo.

Shakespeare la accontentò scrivendo (la leggenda narra in soli 14 giorni) The merry wives of Windsor.

Una commedia divertente che inscena la classica situazione del donnaiolo che vuole imbrogliare e che viene a sua volta imbrogliato. Non so quanto...more
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.
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...more
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...more
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....more
Bet Roberts
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...more
Bruce Snell
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
Shakespeare, at the request of the Queen, revisited his character Falstaff. The rogue is now older, fatter, low on cash, and concocts a plan to get access to the wealth of Ford and Page by seducing their wives. He doesn't lack self esteem, and he's convinced the wives will fall to his charms. The wives are offended, and plot a series of mishaps for Falstaff, while their husbands, appraised of the knight's schemes, also engage in their own actions. Page has complete trust of his wife, he watches...more
Micah Scelsi
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
Gabe Lanciano
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...more
According to a popular legend, William Shakespeare wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor after a request from Queen Elizabeth. Her Royal Highness said she wanted a play which featured the immortal John Falstaff falling in love. If this story is true, about the only flaw would be that nowhere in this play does Falstaff fall in love with anyone. Instead, he comes up with a plan to rib some local middle-aged housewives by pretending to romance them long enough to get a hold of their husbands' money.

One of the most important plays in the canon, and a new personal favourite, the perpetually overlooked comedy has so many pluses, the most notable one being a recent production set in 1960's Windsor, Ontario, that still gets talked about in my quiet Canadian corner of the world. How Pistol, Nym, Bardolph and Falstaff may have been uprooted from the histories, and thrust into a citizens' comedy (with a Midsummer's-like masque tacked onto the end) is no longer a mystery. The Fords and the Pages ha...more
Pietro Coen
This was a mildly entertaining piece – very funny in places. It is set in Windsor (surprise surprise) and concerns two households (Ford and Page) with their ‘merry’ wives and their more or less jealous husbands, a son (William Page) and a daughter (Anne Page). The most entertaining characters are the dissolute knight Sir John Falstaff, a french physician (doctor Caius) who has an accent and a bit of a temper (‘I pray you, let-a me speak a word vit your ear: verefore vill you not meet-a me?’) and...more
Jade Heslin
This is a jovial little tale. Although about three quarters of the puns went right over my head (because, come on – I’m living 400 years after it was written), I still managed to find a lot of the visual gags quite funny.

I’ve never been a fan of Shakespeare’s comedies. With the exception of Much Ado About Nothing & A Midsummer Night’s Dream (which, to me are more about love than humour) they all fall a bit flat. They’re just too stuck in the past. I remember writing an exam paper at uni abou...more
I had to read this for my Shakespeare's Comedies class. If I had read this on my own, I probably wouldn't have understood it as well as I do now. My teacher had us act out certain scenes of the play, and that sure made this play come alive. I liked this play and it's comical situations. The only thing that held me back from really understanding and liking this book more than I already do were the proverbs. This edition of the book gave very detailed notes on the left-hand pages that helped immen...more
Apr 20, 2014 Janelle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves classics
The Merry Wives of Windsor is such a cheeky romp. I really enjoyed reading it as well as listening to an audio book version.
Pretty forgettable. I'm just a reader of Shakespeare, not a scholar, so the debate about where this play fits chronologically within either the canon or Falstaff's life is lost on me. But, as always, I read the critical essays in both the Riverside and Harold Bloom's "Invention of the Human," which take opposing views in the debate. I found Anne Barton's idea that Shakespeare was, in this play, trying out a sort of alternative personality for Falstaff very persuasive; I think once a writer has c...more
Zerin Hasan
5 Hilarious stars >>



Oh God, that 'Falstaff' guy is really shameless,brainless,gutless sot! :D He should back off the first day he's thrown into drain.. but no,his stupidity and greediness leaded him towards his ultimate shame..
This book's setting,characterization,tone - every thing was so amusing... and ending was .. super :D

I so enjoyed this comedy :D
Joseph McGarry
This is not strictly a review of the book. The play has been around for over 400 years, so anything I say won't make any difference. This is my impression of the play produced by the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN last night. Shakespeare's plays were not meant solely to be read. They were meant to be performed. It is in that spirit that I present my thoughts.

First, something about the play. This is, to use modern TV terminology, a spinoff. Reportedly, Queen Elizabeth loved the ch...more
'The Merry Wives of Windsor' is a text I read on my Kindle for a free online course I'm doing, called "Shakespeare and his World". This was pretty short and only took me a couple of hours to read in total, I think.

The story follows Falstaff, a fat knight, who decides to send love letters to Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, both of whom are married women, in order to profess his "love" and wish to have an affair with them. When the women receive their letters, they tell each other. They decide to...more
So this play lived up to the hype of how bad everyone claims it to be. Textually, it is just excess. The few funny lines are overwhelmed by too many characters, a multitude of scenes, a void of personalities, and a lack of poetry. It is fun to see how everyone is trying to one-up and con the other. Visually this could be interesting. Via the text there is little to be had from what just feels like bad staging.

'Have I lived to stand at the taunt of one that makes fritters of English?' (V. v. 139-...more
Anne Nikoline
Dec 20, 2012 Anne Nikoline rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Shakespeare
Recommended to Anne Nikoline by: no one
Despise the fact that The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare is not one of my favourite works of the author, the language, monologues and dialogues are still magnificent. That said I do not think any book, play or poem can manage on the writing style alone.

Instead of getting into details about what I disliked about this specific play, I would rather write about the things which I think worked. For example there are strong characters, especially the ones with French of Welsh accents....more
"I have heard the chimes at midnight" - I kept looking for that quotation from MERRY WIVES (Orson Welles used it as the title of one of his films), but it's not even in the play. What is in the play are three separate situation comedy jokes that make fun of the "fat man" (Falstaff) who thinks women are irresistibly attracted to him. The "merry wives" are two married women who find this notion ludicrous but decide to amuse themselves at the fat man's expense.
The first time, to avoid being disc...more
As I was reading the play, I was sure that it was my least favorite Shakespeare play. However, a discussion in an English class (which including acting out a few scenes) helped me get a better grasp of it. I no longer think it's terrible. I still don't like it, though. These are the main things that I had a hard time with, in no particular order:

1. The two characters with accents (French and Welsh). I could read their dialogue, but it was hard.
2. The content matter. After our discussion in class...more
Don Incognito
Before anything, one interested in reading The Merry Wives of Windsor for the first time might want to to note that Sir John Falstaff appears in multiple plays (none of which are related to The Merry Wives) and to note where this Falstaff play falls in their mini-chronology.
Falstaff appears in Merry Wives and Henry IV (parts I and II), and is mentioned in Henry V; and several characters associated with Falstaff appear in Henry V. In Henry V, Falstaff is said to have died; but in Merry Wives, Fal...more
Paul Frandano
Not top drawer Shakespeare, but an interesting curiosity nonetheless, albeit one that infuriates Falstaff cultists (read Harold Bloom and acolytes) wont to refer to the principal character as the "faux-Falstaff" and to snipe disparagingly at the fruit of Elizabeth's legendary commission of a play depicting "Falstaff in love." Merry Wives is more interesting as the Bard's lone contemporary English play, set in nearby Windsor among contemporary Englishmen (despite the plays references to Prince Ha...more
Following my complaints (“complaints” sounds like too harsh a word) with Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV, Part I, he finds his perfect environment in The Merry Wives of Windsor. A slapstick, comedic environment in which fools are put through their paces by their wittier counterparts and all comes out right in the end. Even better, this is really a pretty good comedy. There are scenes within it that are riotous. (The washing basket scene comes to mind first.)

A few thoughts:
This is Shakespeare’s fir...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
More about William Shakespeare...
Romeo and Juliet Hamlet Macbeth A Midsummer Night's Dream Othello

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