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This week’s podcast concludes our month-long discussion of The Merry Wives of Windsor with a little discussion of the play, a production concept, and a cast. And then some final words… well, maybe not FINAL final… but final for now…
Continue reading “Podcast 76: The Merry Wives of Windsor: Wrap it up… Wrap it ALL up for now…”
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
This week’s podcast continues our month-long discussion of The Merry Wives of Windsor with reviews of two versions of the play available on DVD, as well as a related work. Then, we’ll finish up with our usual recap of this week’s blog entries.
Continue reading “Podcast 75: The Merry Wives of Windsor: DVDs”
Mistress Quickly of The Merry Wives of Windsor is not the same Mistress Quick-LAY of the Henriad. While she is still unintentionally bawdy (“up early and down late” [I.iv.94]), the context is completely different. In the Henriad, the tavern is often mistaken as a bawdy house (or IS that a mistake), so her bawdiness there makes sense. Here, as the “dry nurse” (I.ii.3) to Doctor Caius, it feels out of place.
Or is it just that here it is more intentional?
Could she be the Elizabethan forerunner of Mrs. Roper???
Remember how last week, we said that The Merry Wives of Windsor appears to have been produced between the two parts of Henry the Fourth.
Chronologically, it SORT OF makes sense as well.
Page denounces Fenton as a possible suitor for Anne because “he kept company with the wild prince and Poins” (III.ii.64-65). Poins had been Prince Hal’s boon companion in both Parts. And I can see how Page would what any companion of the dissolute Hal to be a son-in-law (even if Hal is the crown prince).
Continue reading “The Prince”
This week’s podcast continues our month-long discussion of The Merry Wives of Windsor with the last two acts worth of plot. We’ll discuss some legends then, we’ll finish up with our usual recap of this week’s blog entries.
CAUTION: This week’s podcast contains explicit language (one F-bomb)… Download (or not) accordingly.
Continue reading “Podcast 74: The Merry Wives of Windsor: Plot and Legend”
The Merry Wives of Windsor is not a critical success. And yet it’s widely produced.
And not just as Shakespearean comedy.
It’s been the source for at least four operas. The most famous is Verdi’s Falstaff (1893), but German and British composers have taken a crack at it as well–Nicolai in 1849 and Williams in 1924, respectively. Interestingly, the first operatic version was written in 1799 with a libretto by Defranchesi and music by Antonio Salieri. Yep, the guy who nearly two hundred years later would be turned into a villain who tormented Mozart in the play Amadeus by Peter Shaffer.
What this all means, I’m not sure. Save for the fact that while the ivory tower critics may hate the play, there’s something in there that bring theater companies (and audiences) back to it, time after time….
At 88 percent, The Merry Wives of Windsor has more prose than any other play we’ve read thus far in the Canon. And it’s not even close: second place was just two months ago with The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, and that one had just over a half of its lines in prose.
Just as that play took place mostly in the lower classes of Falstaff’s crew, this play, too, follows Falstaff. Only here, he has jettisoned (for the most part) his low followers, and he aims to work (or screw) his way into the upper class.
Continue reading “Of Prose and Poetry”
The Merry Wives of Windsor doesn’t appear in (m)any Top Ten lists of Shakespeare. Most critics find it a weaker play.
There’s not a great deal of deeper meaning in the play, its plot or its characters.
What seems to be the greatest sin in the eyes of most critics, however, is in the character of Falstaff. While the fat knight is seen as a comic creation of genius in The First Part of Henry the Fourth, one with wit and ironic wisdom, the Falstaff of The Merry Wives is seen as a bad copy of that earlier character.
So why is it (and he) so weak?
Continue reading “Critical Opinion”
According to theatrical legend–which, because it’s legend cannot be validated–The Merry Wives of Windsor exists because Shakespeare had been told by his patron, Queen Elizabeth, that she wanted to see “Falstaff in love.”
It’s a great story. The only problem is that the first time we hear this legend, it’s a hundred years later and the legend is brought forth by English dramatist John Dennis.
Let’s say it’s true, though… what are our clues?
Continue reading “A Legend”
No one is sure about the source materials for The Merry Wives of Windsor, but it’s fairly certain that it’s not Shakespeare’s original work.
Some possible influences include.
- Il Pecorone, a collection of stories by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino; the second of these tales bares a resemblance to the Falstaff/Mistress Ford affair.
- “Of Two Brethren and Their Wives” by Barnaby Riche, which includes a jealous husband forcing the escape of an illicit lover.
- “The Tale of the Two Lovers of Pisa” from Tarlton’s Newes Out of Purgatorie,. another plot that parallels Falstaff’s affair with Mistress Ford and its repercussions.