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MonkeyNotes-The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
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Abraham Slender

Slender is Shallow's kinsman, often referred to as his cousin. He is a shy man, totally lacking in self-confidence around women. He is pushed into wooing Anne Page by Shallow, who wants to see Anne's handsome dowry become a part of his family. Although Shallow knows that Anne does not love Slender, he is certain that marriage and the passing of time will remedy that. He successfully convinces Mr. Page, Anne's father, that Slender will be the perfect match for his daughter. Page, in turn, arranges for Slender to elope with Anne, by stealing her from the forest scene. Slender, instead of eloping with Anne, finds himself "married" to a young boy that he has mistaken for Anne in a fairy costume. Much comic material results from Slender's shyness, blunders, and hopeless love for Anne.

The Host

The Host of the Garter Inn in Windsor, is a rather strange character. He interacts with most everyone in the play, for his inn is a gathering place where the locals come to have a drink and to chat. As a result, the host of aware of most of the happenings in Windsor and often becomes involved in them.

Early in the play, Falstaff shows his true character when he is willing to desert his friend Bardolph, easily agreeing that the host take him on as a tapster. Falstaff also socializes with the host, and references are made to their drinking binges. The host also involves himself with Dr. Caius and Sir Evans, who both consider themselves suitors for Anne Page. It is the host who suggests that the two men have a duel to decide which man is worthy to win Anne's hand. Fortunately, the duel turns into verbal combat. Once Dr. Caius and Sir Evans realize that the host has duped them, they successfully seek revenge. They dress up a few of their friends as Germans and make them steal the host's horses.

Fenton also turns to the host for help. He comes to the Garter Inn and reveals his love for Anne and their plan to marry. He then requests the host to arrange for a vicar's services at the wedding, which the host agrees to do.

The host's final, and most important, role in the play is to aid in the happy union of Fenton and Anne.


Doctor Caius

Dr. Caius is one of the three suitors of Anne Page. Early in the play, he had been wrongly duped into a duel with Sir Evans by the Host of the Garter Inn. He and Evans subsequently seek revenge on the host. They dress Nym, Pistol, and some others as Germans, who borrow horses from the host's stable and ride off without paying for them. In the final scene, Dr. Caius runs off to marry the "fairy" whom he takes to be Anne Page. Like Slender, he must accept his loss jovially. Caius is also similar to Mistress Quickly in that he speaks his own amusing version of English, influenced by his French.

Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page

These two women are the most important of the merry wives of Windsor, mentioned in the title of the play. Though not fully developed as individual characters, they are clearly united in their plan to outwit Falstaff. Mrs. Ford must also scheme against her excessively jealous husband.

Both women prove that they are bold and clever, as they successfully trick Falstaff on three different occasions. During the first two meetings with the scoundrel, they do not reveal their scheming and plans to anyone. After the second encounter, when Mrs. Ford sees the rage of her husband, the ladies decide to tell their husbands the truth. The men eagerly join them in planning the final humiliation of Falstaff.

Just as Mrs. Ford has a personal challenge with the jealousy of her husband, Mrs. Page has the challenge of finding a suitable husband for her daughter. She finally chooses Dr. Caius, on the basis of his social standing, as the proper mate for Anne. She secretly plans Caius' elopement with her daughter and is surprised to learn that Anne has had plans of her own, eloping with Fenton.

The ingenuity of Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page, the wives of Windsor, is a driving force of the play. Their plotting and planning develops the plot and lends the play its levity.

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