William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor

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The Merry Wives of Windsor

has never been regarded as one of Shakespeare’s most masterly comedies; nonetheless it is surprising how little respect it receives. Several studies which survey Shakespeare’s comedies omit the play entirely, or offer only a sidelong glance, one usually less than complimentary. Samuel Johnson famously noted that “it never yet had reader or spectator, who did not think it too soon at an end.” The reasons for the antipathy towards

Merry Wives

range from dissatisfaction with its portrayal of Falstaff to the lack of a front-and-centre romantic plot. Some find the play disjointed and perhaps incomplete. Those who view it as Shakespeare’s sole foray into the genre of Citizen Comedy invariably find it wanting when compared to works by Jonson or Middleton. To…

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Citation: Grav, Peter, Virginia Mason Vaughan. "The Merry Wives of Windsor". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 October 2008; last revised 20 January 2020. [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=154, accessed 14 July 2024.]

154 The Merry Wives of Windsor 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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