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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The play is set in Windsor, an Elizabethan town which features St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and Windsor Park, with Eton in the background. The characters meet sometimes in Page's house, sometimes in Doctor Caius' house, and often in a room at the Garter Inn. Evans and Caius meet for their duel in a village called Frogmore, outside of Windsor. The final scenes are enacted in Windsor Forest where Falstaff awaits his final humiliation at the hands of the people of Windsor.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
Sir John Falstaff - a fat knight with a devious mind and an inflated ego. He is familiar to Shakespeare's audience from the history plays. Motivated by the possibility of financial gain, Falstaff schemes to seduce two different women.
Fenton - a young gentleman. He is in love with Anne Page and eventually wins her heart.
Shallow - a country justice, who has been wronged by Sir John Falstaff when the play opens. He persuades his nephew, Slender, to court Anne Page.
Abraham Slender - Shallow's kinsman, who becomes one of Anne Page's suitors. He is ridiculous when he tries to play a romantic role.
Frank Ford - husband of Mistress Ford. He disguises himself as Mr. Brook in order to find out the truth about the liaison between his wife and Falstaff.
George Page - father of Anne Page, who unlike Ford, does trust his wife. A member of the middle class, he wants to marry his daughter to Slender and opposes the penniless Fenton.
Sir Hugh Evans - a Welsh parson, who becomes involved in Slender's courtship of Anne and later participates (with Caius) in fooling the host of the inn. He often speaks in the Welsh dialect.
Doctor Caius - a French doctor and another of the suitors for Anne Page. Like Evans', his English is marked by foreign words that lend humor to his speech. After becoming a temporary rival of Evans, he joins forces with him against the host.
Mistress Quickly - Dr. Caius' servant, who plays a vital role in passing on information and messages to all the other characters. She is the go-between in many of the liaisons. She also has a tendency to mangle the English language in a humorous fashion.
Anne Page - the pretty daughter of Page and Mistress Page. She has few lines in the play, yet she is of central importance in the plot as an object of desire. She defies her parents and chooses the man she marries.
Mistress Ford - Ford's wife, who is offended at receiving Falstaff's invitation and swears to teach him a lesson.
Mistress Page - Anne's mother, who also receives a letter from Falstaff and aids Mrs. Ford in her plan to humiliate him.
Host - the owner of the Garter Inn. He tries to make fools of Evans and Dr. Caius but is outwitted by them in the end.
William Page - son of Page. He is a budding scholar who later participates in the humiliation of Falstaff.
Bardolph, Pistol, Nym - followers of Falstaff. They, however, show their honest nature by refusing to aid Falstaff in his pursuit of Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page.
Robin - Falstaff's page, who remains in the plot's periphery and helps out whenever possible.
Simple - Slender's servant. He often serves as a messenger.
Rugby - Doctor Caius' manservant. He accompanies the Doctor to meet Sir Hugh Evans at the supposed meeting place for their duel.