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The Merry Wives of Windsor
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The Merry Wives of Windsor

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  5,628 ratings  ·  263 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 outstanding scholar providing a modern perspective on the p
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Simon & Schuster (first published April 1597)
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The Ruby Brooch by Katherine Lowry LoganVisions by Lauren KleverWhispers by Lauren KleverCharlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters by D.C. McGannon1984 by George Orwell
Have to read
30th out of 128 books — 43 voters
The Taming of the Shrew by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareHamlet by William ShakespeareThe Two Noble Kinsmen by William ShakespeareThe Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Folger Shakespeare Library
38th out of 40 books — 1 voter

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Community Reviews

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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.
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
Cindy Rollins
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Erika B. (Snogging on Sunday Books)
On an entertainment level The Merry Wives of Windsor would rate about a 3.5 star rating from me but it earned the rest of its star for its portrayal of women! Shakespeare made the women of this play forces to be contended with and I loved that! It's the men in the play that are falling for the wise traps of these merry wives and it causes some pretty slap-stick moments!
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
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.
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
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
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
For both Falstaff's detractors and admirers, The Merry Wives of Windsor poses even more problems than the Henry IV plays. For those who loathe the antics of that tedious old soak, there was rather too much of Falstaff in the two history plays, but at least they could enjoy the political drama and intrigues, especially in Part 1. Fans of Falstaff may have been saddened by his cruel rejection in Part 2, but they did at least get to enjoy his genial wit and low cunning.

By contrast, this play is lik
Tranquem as vossas esposas pois Sir John Falstaff anda à solta e precisa de dinheiro! À solta na sua intemporalidade, pois, sendo uma personagem das peças de Henrique IV (início do século XV), a trama passa-se nos finais do século XIV.
Falstaff e os seus correlegionários Bardolfo, Pistol e Nym, continuam a sua ocupação de subracção dos bens alheios. Para tal o nosso cavaleiro persegue as senhoras Page e Ford, na sua muito desavergonhada percepção da vida conjugal, para prejuízo dos maridos desta
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
Elena Yurievna

Incredibly hilarious comedy written by the Master Himself. I didn’t even expect I would enjoy it this much. This play isn’t in hit list of Shakespeare’s plays therefore it’s not very famous.

Everything happens in Windsor where faithful wives decided to play a series of jokes on Falstaff – a man who tried to seduce them. We meet sir Falstaff in several other plays by Shakespeare. And he still is enormously funny. Somewhere on the background Anne Page, a ric
Shakespeare is sometimes a challenge for me. I much prefer seeing (or performing) his plays to sitting down and reading them. However, The Merry Wives of Windsor was laugh out loud funny! It got off to a slow start, but if you stick with it to the third act, you'll be unable to put it down until you find out how Mistresses Page and Ford get the better of the unscrupulous knight, Falstaff.
There were a lot of characters to keep track of, and I was very grateful for the footnotes that explained El
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
A Shakespearean comedy that is actually funny. Falstaff thinks he is God's gift to women, especially those who are married. He writes two similar love letters to two married women who are friends. They compare notes and decide to teach Falstaff a lesson. Hilarity ensues.
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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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