William Shakespeare’s comic encore for one of his best-loved characters – the rascally Falstaff from Henry IV and Henry V – The Merry Wives of Windsor is edited by G.R. Hibbard with an introduction by Catherine Richardson in Penguin Shakespeare.
’We’ll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
Wives may be merry, and yet honest too’
In need of money, the fat and foolish Falstaff devises a scheme to seduce two married women and steal their husbands’ wealth. By talking to each other, however, the wives soon discover his plan and begin to plot their own revenge. Relentlessly inventive, this comic humiliation of a foolish would-be seducer is a lively, compelling and ultimately joyous celebration of the all-conquering power of laughter.
This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare’s life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to The Merry Wives of Windsor, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.
’It never yet had reader or spectator, who did not think it too soon at end’