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The Merry Wives of Windsor - 2010


When Falstaff arrives in Windsor very short on money, he decides to court two wealthy married women, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. Falstaff decides to send the women identical love letters, and asks his servants – Pistol and Nym – to deliver them to the wives. When they refuse Falstaff sacks them and in revenge the men tell Ford and Page (the husbands) of Falstaff's intentions. Page is not concerned but the jealous Ford persuades the Host of the Garter to introduce him to Falstaff as a 'Master Brook' so that he can find out Falstaff's plans.

Meanwhile, three men are trying to win the hand of Page's daughter, Mistress Anne Page. Mistress Page would like her daughter to marry Doctor Caius, a French physician, whereas the girl's father would like her to marry Master Slender. Anne herself is in love with Master Fenton, but Page had previously rejected Fenton. Hugh Evans, a Welsh parson, tries to enlist the help of Mistress Quickly (servant to Doctor Caius) in wooing Anne for Slender, but the doctor discovers this and challenges Evans to a duel. The Host of the Garter prevents this duel by telling both men a different meeting place. Evans and Caius decide to work together to be revenged on the Host.

When the women receive the letters from Falstaff, each goes to tell the other and they quickly find that the letters are almost identical. The "merry wives" are not interested in Falstaff as a suitor; however, for the sake of their own amusement and to gain revenge for his indecent assumptions towards them both, they pretend to respond to his advances.

This all results in great embarrassment for Falstaff. 'Brook' says he is in love with Mistress Ford but cannot woo her as she is too virtuous. He offers to pay Falstaff to court her, saying that once she has lost her honour he will be able to tempt her himself. Falstaff cannot believe his luck, and tells 'Brook' he has already arranged to meet Mistress Ford while her husband is out. Falstaff leaves to keep his appointment and Ford soliloquies that he is right to suspect his wife and that the trusting Page is a fool.

When Falstaff arrives to meet Mistress Ford, the merry wives trick him into hiding in a laundry basket ("buck basket") full of filthy, smelly clothes. Jealous Ford returns to try and catch his wife with the knight but the wives have the basket taken away and the contents (including Falstaff) dumped into the river. Falstaff is convinced that the wives are just "playing hard to get" with him, so he continues his pursuit of sexual advancement, with its attendant capital and opportunities for blackmail.
Again Falstaff goes to meet the women but Mistress Page comes back and warns Mistress Ford of her husband's approach again. They trick him again, this time into disguising himself as Mistress Ford's maid’s aunt, the fat woman of Brentford. Ford tries once again to catch his wife with the knight but ends up beating the "old woman", whom he despises, and throwing her out of his house.

The wives tell their husbands about the series of jokes they have played on Falstaff, and together they devise one last trick which ends up with the Knight being humiliated in front of the whole town. They tell Falstaff to dress as "Herne the Hunter” and meet them by an old oak tree in Windsor Forest. They then dress several of the local children, including Anne and William Page, as fairies and get them to pinch and burn Falstaff to punish him. Page plots to dress Anne in white and tells Slender to steal her away and marry her during the revels. Mistress Page and Doctor Caius arrange to do the same, but they arrange Anne shall be dressed in green. Anne tells Fenton this, and he and the Host arrange for Anne and Fenton to be married instead.

The wives meet Falstaff, and almost immediately the "fairies" attack. Slender, Caius, and Fenton steal away their brides-to-be during the chaos, and the rest of the characters reveal their true identities to Falstaff.

Although he is embarrassed, Falstaff takes the joke surprisingly well, as he sees it was what he deserved. Ford says he must pay back the 20 pounds 'Brook' gave him and takes the Knight's horses as recompense. Slender suddenly appears and says he has been deceived – the 'girl' he took away to marry was not Anne but a young boy. Caius arrives with similar news – however, he has actually married his boy! Fenton and Anne arrive and admit that they love each other and have been married. Fenton chides the parents for trying to force Anne to marry men she did not love and the parents accept the marriage and congratulate the young pair. Eventually they all leave together and Mistress Page even invites Falstaff to come with them to laugh at the sport they have had.