The Merry Wives of Windsor (Kobo eBook)
One of Shakespeare’s early comedies, “The Merry Wives of Windsor” was first published in 1602 and is believed to have been written sometime before 1597. It is unique among his plays for its exclusive focus on the middle class of Elizabethan England, though it is nominally set during the reign of Henry IV. The main character is a fat knight, Sir John Falstaff, who first appeared in Shakespeare’s plays “Henry IV, Part I” and “Henry IV, Part II.” Falstaff tries to woo two married women for money, but they quickly discover his scheming and trick him numerous times in return, creating memorable, humorous scenes at Falstaff’s expense. An additional thread is woven into the story concerning the daughter of one of the wives, who loves a man of whom her parents do not approve. Most likely written at the personal request of Queen Elizabeth for a court occasion, this cast of strong female characters fills the stage with spirited action, not always without irony, and creates a plot overlaid with such timeless themes as marriage, cuckoldry, wealth, social class, and love. This edition is annotated by Henry N. Hudson, includes an introduction by Charles Harold Herford, and a biographical afterword.