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Act I, Scene 3
This scene takes place in a room at the Garter Inn. Falstaff, Bardolph, Nym, Pistol, and Robin are seen conversing with the host of the inn. Falstaff complains to the host about the heavy expenses he has been incurring lately and considers dismissing some of his followers. The host offers to hire his friend, Bardolph, for the post of tapster at his inn. Falstaff acquiesces and bids his friend adieu. Bardolph, happy with the decision and his new trade, exits.
Falstaff then discloses his plan to seduce Mrs. Alice Ford. He claims that she is enamored of him and "gives the leer of invitation." In truth, Falstaff's real motivation is to create an opportunity to steal from her husband, whose wealth Mrs. Ford controls. Falstaff has written a letter of invitation to her, and another to Page's wife. When he asks Pistol and Nym to deliver the letters, they refuse; therefore, Falstaff gives the letters to Robin, his page, to deliver. After Robin and Falstaff leave, Pistol and Nym discuss Falstaff's wily plans and decide to forewarn both Mr. Ford and Mr. Page of Falstaff's evil designs on their wives.
This scene helps to establish the true character of Falstaff, as his fickle, cunning, mercenary mind is revealed.
He has no loyalty to the men he employs and openly talks about needing to dismiss one or more of them. When the host of the Garter Inn hears his complaints, he offers to hire Bardolph from Falstaff and employ him as his tapster. Falstaff eagerly releases the man, and calls him a 'tinder-box,' which is a reference to his red nose and to the fact that he is very volatile and likely to cause trouble.
Having financial troubles, Falstaff has decided to seduce Mrs. Ford, hoping to gain some money from the venture since she controls her husband's wealth. He naively convinces himself that she also has an interest in him. He also has designs on Mrs. Page, the wealthy wife who was seen in the first scene. Although Pistol and Nym are friends with Falstaff, they refuse to help him in any way with his seduction plans; they even refuse to deliver the letters to Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page. Additionally they decide to forewarn the husbands about Falstaff, proving that they are basically honest and decent fellows.