Critique of Merry Wives of Windsor

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The performance as a whole

The performance as a whole is most delightful since it is hysterically funny. Especially the two female Mistresses Ford and Page, whose interplay and vigor made for an excellent performance all around. The women in scene 3 of act 3 determined to exact revenge on Falstaff after learning that he had sent similar letters to both of them (Chess, 2010). Falstaff's behavior revealed both his lack of regard for these women and his desperation. The wife's decisions were foreshadowed in this moment, and Mistress Ford's previous jokes prepped me for the impending visual humor. The fact that the performance is a knock-about comedy, with a lot of physical gags and facial action appealed to me. It is much more than mockery though, and it captivated me in multiple ways. Furthermore, it has a delightful naturalism that is typical of Shakespeare's work (Evans, 2013 p 5). I enjoyed the humor in the performance.

A Remarkable Moment of Transformation

In Merry Wives, Falstaff undergoes a carnivalesque transformation during which he changes into Brentford's fat old witch. Scene ii in act II, I quote "A witch, a quean, and an old cozening queen. We are simple men; we do not know what's brought to pass under the profession of fortune-telling. She operates by charms, by spells, by a figure and such daubery as this, beyond our element; we know nothing" (Chess, 2010). This action is probably a trick to escape the envy of Mistress Page and Mistress Ford's husband's, both women of whom he plans to seduce for funds; especially the latter. The moment reveals the difference between shame and honor. Falstaff is controlled by forces of misrule and chaos. The subject of shame is shown. An internal conflict produces shame. In Merry Wives, Falstaff intends to shame the two women for betraying their spouses. In this play, Falstaff displays plenty of shame and it is observed during many instances from getting burnt as a ghost, being beaten as a witch to being dumped into a dirty laundry basket. This transformation is necessary because Shakespeare uses it to present "internal," which is honor owed to friends, family, leaders, and the community as a whole (Evans, 2013 p 9). By distinguishing the two kinds of recognition and providing a "comic" perception of honor as the opposite of shame, Shakespeare made a very profound statement in a supposedly modest play.

A Memorable Image

The image of Falstaff is hard to erase in the memory even after the performance. The reason is because he is mischievous, funny, cowardly, lively, and boisterous. The man thinks he can succeed in wooing married women and therefore initiates a plan to woe Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. Nonetheless, they are wittier than him and during three separate moments they cause him humiliation. It is amusing that Falstaff returns to the house of Ford and when Master Ford arrives the women disguise Falstaff as a witch from Brentford, driving Mr. Ford to beat him mercilessly. The wives find it to be hilarious and allow their husbands to share their little joke causing Mr. Ford to apologize (Evans, 2013 p 11). Images from this scene are not difficult to forget because present key themes that are synonymous with ordinary lives which include wealth, social class, revenge, jealousy, and marriage. Discussed with irony, stereotyped perceptions, sarcasm, and sexual innuendo are themes that can provide the performance with something similar to the current views (Evans, 2013 p 13).

Works Cited

Chess, Simone. "Shakespeare'S Plays And Broadside Ballads." Literature Compass, vol 7, no. 9, 2010, pp. 773-785. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/j.1741-4113.2010.00743.x.retrieved on 21/7/2017

Evans, B. I. The Language Of Shakespeare's Plays. Hoboken, Taylor And Francis, 2013,

March 10, 2023
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Performance Laughter Play

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