Item description for The Merry Wives of Windsor (Arkangel Complete Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare...
Sir John Falstaff plans to seduce Mistresses Ford and Page and gain access to their husbands' fortunes. The two women are too smart for the debauched old libertine, and Falstaff's plots only lead to his humiliation. Intrigue abounds in this happy, good-natured farce.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Merry Wives of Windsor (Arkangel Complete Shakespeare)?
Great bawdy fun May 3, 2008
Mistress Ford and Mistress Page are be badgered by the lecherous Falstaff, how to arrange a happy ending? As the husband of the object of Falstaff's passion disguises himself as a servant to divine the plans of the villain, the ladies defend their honor by inviting the advances of Falstaff.
This is the Bard's comedy on a good day. Despite the challenges of the original language, I chuckled my way through this story/script. In the end, Falstaff got what he deserve (no sexy time with the good ladies and several beatings), the ladies' honor was preserved, and their husbands saw the highest qualities of their wives.
I loved it, and recommend it highly. I just wish this one would be put on stage more often.
E.M. Van Court
The Return of Falstaff (Well, his name at least.) Jul 15, 2006
As many of you know, the crooked, but comical and likable Falstaff had a moderate role in "1 Henry IV." He was undoubtedly the real star of "2 Henry IV." At the end of "2 Henry IV," Shakespeare announced that Falstaff would be in the next play. ("Henry V") Well, to the disappointment of the audience, except for the mention of his death, Falstaff was NOT in "Henry V." So, some plays later, Shakespeare ressurected Falstaff along with Bardolph and Nym who were killed in "Henry V." Pistol survived "Henry V," and he is back as well. Some people (including the learned Isaac Asimov) said that the 'fat fool' bears no resemblance to the Falstaff from the Henry IV plays. Well, Asimov was right, but in Shakespeare's defense, the name can not always bring back the character. (Compare the "Dukes of Hazzard" episodes to the not so good recent movie. Denver Pyle is probably rolling over in his grave!) Well, onto the play! Shakespeare cleverly combines 2 plots. Anne Page is a young girl whose parents want her to marry someone other than Fenton whom she really loves. This story IS all too familiar, but Shakespeare compensates for that rather well. Her father (Page) wants Anne to marry the nice enough Slender, while her mother (Lady Page) wants her to marry the eccentric Dr. Caius. (So, Shakespeare doesn't quite repeat the Juliet syndrome.) Moving on, Falstaff enters and he intends to woo Anne's mother and Page's wife as well as Ford's wife not out of love, but in hopes of increasing his fortune. (How unheard of! ESPECIALLY in today's world!) Well, even Falstaff's friends Pistol and Nym are repulsed by this, and Pistol warns Mr. Ford while Nym warns Mr. Page. While we may see Page and Lady Page as the 'wicked parents' who want Anne to marry someone other than whom she loves, Shakespeare expands their characters by having mutual love and trust. (Othello sure could have learned A LOT from Mr. Page!) So, at this point we see that the marriage between Page and Lady Page is a reasonably happy and successful one. On the other hand, Ford is not so sure of his wife to say the least. He plans to disguise himself and encourage Falstaff to go ahead, mainly so he can catch his wife and Falstaff in the act. Lady Ford has plans of her own. We know that Lady Page and Lady Ford are trying to teach Falstaff a lesson so to speak, and we can only imagine what is going through poor Ford's mind when Falstaff reveals his plans to woo Lady Anne AND Lady Page. Ford goes through some comical jealous rages, but unlike the so called 'noble Othello' he does NOT lay an abusive hand on his wife, and it is hard to not feel at least a little sorry for him. (We can only imagine his frustrations when he thinks he was wrong, but Falstaff confesses he was with Ford's wife, Ford can recall the events, and Falstaff speaks of ANOTHER meeting with Ford's wife!) Well, keeping with good comedy, no one really gets hurt, and Mr. Ford is willing to admit he was wrong about his wife. Now it does seem that after the 2 humiliating events (being thrown into a river and having to disguise himself as a witch to escape), Falstaff would have learned by now. But, such is comedy. The Pages and the Fords decide to subject Falstaff to one more practical joke. And of course, there is the matter of whom Anne will marry. (Fenton whom she loves, Slender whom her father loves, and Dr. Caius whom her mother loves.) In a bit of "Midsummer Night's Dream" nostalgia, Falstaff suffers one final slapstick moment, but all is resolved, and young love triumphs. And in the often found theme of reconciliation of Shakespeare's comedies, the characters (including Falstaff) all enjoy a happy party.
Sure Fire Theater Mar 11, 2006
This play is odd in that critics hate it, but theater companies love it. Harold Bloom's contempt for this play is so great that he refused to discuss it in his book on Shakespeare. But, unlike some of Shakespeare's less popular plays, Merry Wives is performed frequently in Shakespeare festivals across the land.
You really have to see this play to understand how well it works on the stage. Played by an energetic cast it is hilarious situation comedy and easily understandable by people unfamiliar with Shakespeare. When Falstaff says at the end, with deadpan delivery, "I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass," it brings down the house. Just reading the play in your living room, you will probably miss much of the humor.
Shakespeare was a man of the theater. He wrote for production, with little thought given to publication in his lifetime. You have to see his plays performed to get a measure of his theatrical genius.
One of my favourites with Falstaff Jan 21, 2005
I certainly don't agree with many of the reviews of this play. To me it is one of Shakespeare's funniest. I truly enjoyed it. One of my favourite Shakespearean characters is Falstaff, and he appears in a number of Shakespeare's comedies. He makes an appearance in this one, and he is wonderful. The scene of this play is in Windsor, England. The play follows the merry wives in their interactions with their husbands and with their families and servants. This play is unique too, because we see Falstaff in love in this one. This may be one of Shakespeare's lesser known comedies, but it should be read and enjoyed. Don't let some of these reviews stop you from the sheer enjoyment of this play.
Good Cast Make Bad Play Bearable Oct 19, 2004
"The Merry Wives of Windsor" is one of Shakespeare's worst plays. It lacks the sharp wit of many of his other comedies, tending for low puns all the way through. The situations are ridiculous. Is Falstaff in a laundry hamper, or sitting in the woods and being prodded by children, funny? Of course, the Elizabethans liked bear-baiting (mentioned in the play). And Shakespeare seemed to want this play to be particularly funny for making fun of Welsh and French accents.
What raises this recording is the cast, particularly Michael Hordern's Ford. Ford is a bitter, jealous character, who actually believes his wife might have a dalliance with the physically repulsive Falstaff. But Hordern's befuddled jealousy actually make thankless lines funny. Anthony Quayle, a very good actor, blusters too much as Falstaff, but it must be difficult to represent Falstaff in sound alone and so that's excusable.
The problems with the play are Shakespeare's. He starts a lot of things he doesn't explore (such as the bizarre horse-stealing episode) and there are too many characters to keep up with comfortably unless one follows along with the text the first time through. But if you need to get through and understand "The Merry Wives" for whatever reason, listening to this fine cast and skimming along with the text is the most enjoyable way to do it.