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The Merry Wives of Windsor

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  8,401 ratings  ·  523 reviews
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.
Kindle Edition, Cambridge Edition, 130 pages
Published May 12th 2012 (first published 1597)
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Greg William, that sounds fantastic! No, I didn't see it. There isn't much Shakespeare staged in Palm Beach County, where Trump has his Florida house." One…moreWilliam, that sounds fantastic! No, I didn't see it. There isn't much Shakespeare staged in Palm Beach County, where Trump has his Florida house." One wonders why?(less)
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3.56  · 
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 ·  8,401 ratings  ·  523 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.
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
This is Sir John Falstaff’s play; it was a chance for Shakespeare to pad out one of his most popular characters and give him another comic moment. And he failed completely.

So when Shakespeare wrote this he focused on this one character, and as a result the rest of the play suffered. The cast were all mere plot devices, a means for Falstaff to arrive at his destination (the dénouement) in the woods wearing his antlers. They don’t seem to have the same level of personality or depth that is often
da AL
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great audio version of one of Shakespeare's more playful plays.
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words; but they do no more adhere and keep place together than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of 'Greensleeves.'"... "I will find you twenty lascivious turtles ere one chaste man." (Mistress Ford and Mistress Page compare notes at Location 349)

"Thou art a Castalion King Urinal!" (Location 565. Ooh, way to alienate customers from your Garter Inn, "Mine Host"!)

"Disarm them, and let them question; let them keep their limbs
"We have some salt of our youth in us."
-- William Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II, Scene 2


Meh. Not my favorite. There were a few good lines and obviously any book with Sir. John Falstaff deserves an extra star (so ⋆⋆ + Falstaff = ⋆⋆⋆). As a whole I didn't like it. It felt cheap and a bit of a throw-away for a mature William Shakespeare, but I'm sure it played well for the dirty and unwashed. And, OK, to be honest there were some pretty fantastic lines. But mostly it felt like it belo
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A man may be too confident.”

"The Merry Wives of Windsor" is generally loathed by scholars, and loved by audiences. The reason is not hard to detect. It is a non-serious (at least on the surface) 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.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my new favorite Shakespeare play and I have zero regrets. Everyone is kind of hating on this play because they feel like Shakespeare mistreated one of his “best” creations (yes, I’m talking about Falstaff here) but I literally couldn’t care less. I only read the Henry’s after reading The Merry Wives of Windsor so I wasn’t priorly familiar with Falstaff and therefore just took him for what he was: a disgusting old man who thinks that women ain’t shit and that he can literally abuse them f ...more
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
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Zachary F.
                                          O powerful love,
that in some respects makes a beast a man, in
some other a man a beast!

-Falstaff, Act 5, Scene 5

Never have I finished a Shakespeare play so conflicted about whether or not I liked it.

Merry Wives has a reputation as one of Will's poorer efforts, and I (like most people, I suspect) am more in thrall to popular opinion than I'd like to admit. People en masse are often (usually?) stupid, but when folks who are supposed to know what they're tal
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare
To tell the truth, I got into this play because of Hugh Evans. And my theater friends.

Basically what happened was—I was surfing the Shakespeare internet when suddenly I came across a page on how Shakespeare writes accents. There was one on Welsh accents, which intrigued me. After all, Fluellen (the Welsh soldier from Henry V) is quite possibly my favorite character in Shakespeare, and I’m pretty interested in Welsh culture, thanks to him. (And I played him when I was in Henry V!) However, I was
Rachel (Kalanadi)
3.5 stars but not quite enough to round up on Goodreads. Have to say I found this far more amusing than Midsummer Night's Dream.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare
Not really my sort of thing, but “Merry Wives” is so much better than some of the other comedies I've read this year (Love's Labour's Lost, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors), that I'm giving it three stars, just in recognition of that. This is very silly, frivolous, and shallow, but Mistress Page and Mistress Ford were engaging, and it was satisfying to see this lecherous, arrogant Falstaff being thoroughly put down. Falstaff here bears only a tenuous connection with the gargant ...more
Dec 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, drama
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
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, classics
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
Emily Dybdahl
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brit-lit
This was a silly story.

I liked the taunting humor and especially the self-deprecation of Falstaff about his portly belly. So many references to his "grease" or "butter" melting. So weird, but so funny.
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
Diana Long
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the Delphi Complete Works of Shakespeare prior to the play the book gives some historical information regarding what the reader is about to read as well as photos of a work of art and of the original manuscript. I noted that “this is the only one of his plays to deal exclusively with contemporary Elizabethan life and that also it is to be believed that Elizabeth I herself requested Shakespeare to write another play featuring Falstaff and this hilarious comedy is the result of that request”. I ...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.
Jan 30, 2014 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
Lady Shockley
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Merry Wives of Windsor stands out among Shakespeare's plays as the only one centered on middle- class people, as opposed to royalty and the ruling classes. Much like A Midsummer's Night's Dream, the final scene focuses on an encounter between the human players and the faerie realm. In Midsummer, the fairies are of the Royal type - Oberon and Titania - which corresponds with the Duke and Queen who are to be married, around which the other plots revolve; in MW, the fairies are of common tricks ...more
Joseph McGarry
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, shakespeare
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
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
Aug 08, 2012 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.
Bruce Snell
Mar 29, 2013 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
Ultimate Reading Challenge 2017. A book by an author from a country you have never visited.

I recognize the plot from having previously seen the opera Falstaff. I also remember from the plays Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and Henry V the characters of Mistress Quickly, Pistol, Nym, and Bardolph. However, their natures are a bit different herein. The most farcical of Shakespeare's comedies. What hubris Falstaff has to write the same letter to two different women who know each other. I did note the line "
Stephanie Day
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very mischevious.
Nov 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, english-lit
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
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Wives may be merry and yet honest too."

I've attended live performances of Shakespeare plays off and on for the last twenty years, and have seen The Merry Wives of Windsor at least twice. It's never been one of my favorites, and reading it through was, in part, an attempt to figure out why.

This time, it felt like a "college humor" play, with plenty of lewd puns, silly accents, and practical jokes. I'm not a fan of practical jokes in real life, but since Falstaff seems not to be hurt or bear grud
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
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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
“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” 196 likes
“Love like a shadow flies when substance love pursues
Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.”
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