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The Merry Wives of Windsor (Folger Shakespeare Library) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...wonderfully informative introdutory essay." Studies in English Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

This new edition of Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor focuses at every point on a theatrical understanding of the play. While emphasising the liveliness of the play in stage terms, David Crane also claims that this citizen comedy needs to be taken much more seriously than in the past, as an expression of Shakespeare's fundamental understanding of human life, conveyed centrally in the character of Falstaff. In the process he also examines Shakespeare' free and vigorous use of different linguistic worlds within the play. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 60305th edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671722786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671722784
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
Shakespeare, considering he wrote this little gem of a comedy in a mere 14 days for the Virgin Queen, pulls off a play that proves both witty and fun. Unequivocally, The Merry Wives of Windsor makes for a more enjoyable play if seen live. Nonetheless, reading it is the 2nd best thing.
Sir John Falstaff is once again such a fool - but a lovable and hilarious one at that. Having read Henry V - where Falstaff ostensibly had met his end - I was pleased to see him so alive(pardon the pun) in this short, albeit clever play. It is no surprise that The Merry Wives of Windsor enjoyed such a long and successful stage run during Shakespeare's day and continues to be one of his most popularly staged plays. Recommended as a fun break from the more serious and murderous Shakespearean tragedies.
"Why, then the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open." - Pistol
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Format: Kindle Edition
If you are looking for a good Kindle edition of Shakespeare, buy the Modern Library versions edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen. It includes hyperlinks with a table of contents and glossary. It also has the intro, list of characters, key facts, textual notes, and scene-by-scene analysis that are in the print version. It does not have line numbers, but the links to the glossary reduce the need for them.
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Format: Paperback
Among critics, this is arguably their least favorite of Shakespeare's plays but with audiences it is a perennial favorite. Also, Giuseppe Verdi chose it as the basis of his very last opera, Falstaff. So there must be something in it.

Sir John Falstaff, the lovable rogue from The Henriad cycle of plays, needs money and he intends to get it from a rich wife. Just to be sure he gets something, he attempts to woo two women rather than just one. Never mind that both women are already married; this is not a problem for the shameless Sir John. He sends love letters to both women but puts them in the wrong envelopes, so that each gets the one meant for the other. OK, these middle aged women might be a little starved for affection from their husbands but they aren't stupid and they would have seen through Falstaff's ruse anyway.

His mistake however does give them the chance to have a little fun at his expense. Falstaff appears at one woman's home to press his suit. Her husband arrives unexpectedly, and Falstaff hides in a basket that is then carried out. It's a bit heavy...

Falstaff and his ridiculous plan provides the comic situation, the confusion that ensues provides the slapstick, foreigners with Welsh and French accents provide ethnic humor. And in the end, Falstaff receives a well deserved lesson.

There is nothing wrong with this play, it's a very good, very funny comedy and as close to pure comedy as Shakespeare gets with the exception of The Comedy Of Errors. So why don't critics like it? Probably because they expect more from Falstaff. He fears getting caught by the husband but that does not keep him from courting his wife. He offers no catechism in this play about the evils of adultery or of the dark side of love, unlike in Henry IV Part One where he cautions the audience against how honor in war leads to injury or death. The fat man in this play offers us a barrel of laughs but no wisdom at all.

Vincent Poirier, Tokyo
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Format: Paperback
Word has it that Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) was so amused by Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1 she asked William Shakespeare to write a play with Falstaff in love. The Bard obliged, but on his own terms. Thought to be written in two weeks, "The Merry Wives of Windsor" is Shakespeare's only play to use England's emerging middle-class as a backdrop. The subject is courting, and the state of protestant marriage in Elizabethan England.

Falstaff is a knight, but hardly young or dashing. In Henry IV Part 1, Sir John describes himself as "A goodly portly man, i'faith, and a corpulent; of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye, and a most noble carriage . . .." Prince Hal describes him as "a stuffed cloak-bag of guts" and "an old white-bearded Satan." Needless to say, he's hardly a catch. His idea of love is to find a woman who will fund his considerable appetite for food, fun and drink.

Falstaff has his attention focused on two such women, both of whom are married to wealthy town merchants. Both women have flirted with him--or so he has deluded himself into thinking. Equally important, in their respective households both control the family's purse. They are Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, a.k.a. the Merry Wives of Windsor. Sir John writes them identical love letters, and says, in effect, we both like to drink, neither of us are young; when your husband's away, let's get together and have some fun.

The merry wives are on to Falstaff, however, and invite him to their homes for the purpose of making a fool of him. Their husbands learn of the planned rendezvous and one of them--Master Ford--believes his wife is about to cheat on him and becomes crazy with jealousy. Master Page, on the other hand, trusts his wife. That's half the plot.
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