Act IV, Scene 1
Mistress Page asks Mistress Quickly if Falstaff is already with Mistress Ford. Mistress Quickly confirms that if he is not already there, he will be shortly. She also explains that Mistress Ford wants Mistress Page to arrive as quickly as possible. Mistress Page will go straight there after she drops her son off at school.
Sir Hugh Evans approaches explaining that Slender has dismissed the boys from classes today. Mistress Page isn’t going to let her son, Williams, off that easily, so she asks Sir Hugh to quiz him. He tries to quiz him on his Latin (I think it’s all Latin. Honestly, the actual question and answer portion went right over my head). However, Mistress Quickly keeps mishearing the words and inserting her own opinions through a series of puns.
William apparently answers to everyone’s satisfaction and they all disperse.
Act IV, Scene 2
Mistress Ford has convinced Falstaff that she is duly sorry for accidentally having him tossed in the river. He forgives her and he thinks that they are about to get down to sexy business when Mistress Page comes in. Falstaff quickly hides in the other room.
Mistress Page quite loudly explains that Master Ford is on his way again, ranting about how Falstaff is there. She is so relieved to hear that Mistress Ford is alone…except she isn’t. They wonder aloud how to hide him and think about putting him in the basket again. Falstaff comes out to object to the basket plan. They can’t sneak him out because men are guarding the doors. There is nowhere to hide him that Master Ford won’t investigate.
Then, they come up with a plan. They will disguise Falstaff as Mistress Ford’s fat aunt and sneak him out that way. When Falstaff goes to change, Mistress Ford reveals that her husband hates her aunt, has declared her a witch, and sworn to beat her if she comes to his home. Mistress Ford also decides to have her carry the basket past her husband like they did last time, just to mess with him.
Her trick works like a charm. An incensed Master Ford insists on having every single item of clothing removed from the basket even when it is clear there is no man in the basket, particularly a man as big as Falstaff. Everyone present tries to tell Master Ford that he is embarrassing himself. He doesn’t care and gives everyone permission to mock him forever if his search turns up nothing.
Mistress Ford calls up to Mistress Page to bring down her “aunt” because her husband wants to search the house. Master Ford asks who she is talking about and when he finds out that her fat aunt is there, he gets even more upset. He sees the old woman (Falstaff), calls her a witch, and beats her. Everyone is shocked that he beat the old woman, but Sir Hugh catches a glimpse of a beard. However, he sees this as evidence that she is indeed a witch (*siiiiiiiiigh*).
Once the men go to search the house, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page laugh at the whole situation. They find it hilarious that Falstaff was beaten so severely. They briefly consider stopping at this point, but decide to give him one last scare. However, they decide it’s time to let Master Ford in on the joke.
Act IV, Scene 3
Bardolph explains to the Host of the Garter that some German diplomats would like to use three of his horses to prepare for the arrival of a Duke. The Host wonders about all the secrecy, and wants to speak with the Germans personally, but agrees to give them the horses…at a price…a high price.
Act IV, Scene 4
The husbands and Sir Hugh laugh about the hilarious trick their wives played on Falstaff. Master Ford is extremely repentant until Master Page tells him to calm the eff down.
However, none of the men believe that Falstaff will come to Mistress Ford a third time. The wives are confident they can get him to meet them. Their plan is to have Falstaff dress like a mythological hunter that guards the woods near Windsor and meet them at the famous oak. Once he is there, the Page’s children and some other kids will come out dressed as fairies and scare the pants off of Falstaff, who will then be mocked all the way home. The men help finalize some details and it is decided that Anne Page will be the Queen of the Fairies, dressed in white robes. Master Page offers to go buy the silk.
He secretly plans to have her whisked away to marry Slender in all the commotion. That’s all well and good because Mistress Page has a similar plan in mind for Anne and the Doctor.
Act IV, Scene 5
Simple comes into the Garter Inn looking for Falstaff. The Host points out Falstaff’s chamber, but the young man explains that he will wait for the woman that went up there to come back down. The Host is having none of that and calls for Falstaff, who comes down.
Simple asks if the wise woman of Brentwood (Mistress Ford’s fat aunt) was with him. Falstaff says she was and Simple asks to speak with her on behalf of his master, Slender. Falstaff tells Simple to ask him the questions. First, Slender wants to know if Nym stole his chain. He did. Then, Slender wants to know if he will marry Anne Page. Falstaff says he will and Simple leaves. The Host asks if Falstaff really met with the woman of Brentwood. Falstaff implies that yes, he had.
Bardolph comes in with some bad news for the Host. The Germans ran off with his horses. The Host is in disbelief until Sir Hugh comes in to warn him of some thieving Germans that have been robbing inns all over the county. Doctor Caius shows up to deliver the final blow that there is no German Duke expected at court. The Host runs off to deal with this crisis.
Falstaff finds his situation to be very similar. Mistress Quickly comes in with a message from the wives. Falstaff is hesitant to hear it, but eventually obliges.
Act IV, Scene 6
Fenton comes to the Host for a favor. At first the Host dismisses the idea, but once Fenton offers to pay him a large sum of money, the Host agrees. Fenton recaps the plan to scare Falstaff. He also explains that Anne has agreed to her Father’s wishes and wear white to run off and marry Slender. She has also agreed to wear green and marry Doctor Caius, as her mother wishes. However, she intends to deceive both her parents and run off with Fenton instead. The Host agrees to procure the priest to perform the marriage.
Act V, Scene 1
Falstaff, clearly being rushed my Mistress Quickly, assures her that he will go to the park. She rushes off to find him some horns.
Falstaff takes this opportunity to recount to Master Brook (Ford) the events of the day at Mistress Ford’s. He asserts that he never would have taken such a beating if he wasn’t dressed as a woman. Falstaff pulls Brook aside to tell him the plan for that night, which of course Brook already knows because he is, in fact, Master Ford.
Act V, Scene 2
Master Page sits with Shallow and Slender before the fairy exploits. He goes over the marriage plan with Slender. Slender has added an extra layer of security by coming up with a code word for Anne, so that they can recognize each other. Shallow finds that a bit excessive, but it’s time for the shenanigans to begin, so they don’t have time to argue.
Act V, Scene 3
Mistress Page confirms her marriage plan with Doctor Caius. He is to grab Anne, who will be dressed in green, and whisk her off to be married. He agrees to the plan and heads out to the woods. Mistress Page knows her husband won’t be pleased, but she thinks it is worth it for a better marriage.
Mistress Page wonders where her daughter is, and Sir Hugh and the other children for that matter. Mistress Ford reassures her that they are already laying in wait for Falstaff. They go over the plan and head off.
Act V, Scene 4
Sir Hugh gets the children ready for the prank.
Act V, Scene 5
Falstaff comes to the tree at the appointed time and says a little prayer to Jove (Zeus) reminding him of all the times he disguised himself for the ladies. That’s when Mistress Ford shows up and he is eager to see her. She informs him that Mistress Page is there. Now he’s really excited – ready to divide his attentions between the two ladies.
They hear a noise and the ladies run off. Falstaff worries that it is the devil.
Mistress Quickly leads the fairies in a spooky chant about how much the fairy queen hates people who sleep around and commit adultery. Falstaff decides the best thing to do is to hide…by laying down flat on his face. Hugh Evans urges all those in Windsor to think upon their sins or else be pinched by the fairies. Mistress Quickly tells the fairies to go throughout Windsor and bring luck and plant life. But first, they need to dance around the oak.
Falstaff is concerned, which he should have been, because they start burning him with their torches. They chant about how awful sins are while pinching and burning Falstaff. During the hilarious torture session, the various suitors pull away who they think is their lady.
The wives finally bring an end to the joke. They reveal themselves, as do their husbands. Ford reveals himself to be Master Brook. Falstaff realizes he has been made to look foolish. He admits that he thought the fairies must be fake a moment or two, but his guilt got the better of him. Sir Hugh points out that if he wasn’t so sinful, the fairies wouldn’t pinch him. He also points out that Ford needs to stop being suspicious of his wife because frankly it made him look like a jerk. Ford has to agree.
Now, Falstaff can take a lot of teasing, but not by a Welshman. He can’t even speak proper English. It is enough to make him give up his debaucherous lifestyle. Mistress Page, Mistress Ford and all the rest take this opportunity to point out that they would never cheat on their husbands, but especially not with someone who is pretty much just the worst in every single way possible. Falstaff has been fully humiliated, but they’re not quite done with him yet. Ford wants his money back (good luck), but Page offers to feed him and laugh at Mistress Page because Anne is now married to Slender. Mistress Page mumbles to herself that she knows Anne is married to the Doctor.
Slender runs in quite upset. You see, Anne Page is not Anne Page. She’s a boy. Page assumes he must have grabbed the wrong person. Slender explains that he grabbed the fairy dressed in white and even used their secret phrase. Mistress Page jumps in to clear things up. She dressed her daughter in green, so she could marry the Doctor. But wouldn’t you know it, the green clad girl was also a boy, as the Doctor angrily brings to everyone’s attention.
It turns out Anne married Fenton. Her parents are shocked. Fenton guilts them for trying to sell off their daughter in marriage and not letting love play any part of it. Ford is convinced and so Master and Mistress Page welcome Master Fenton into their family. Then it all ends in a dirty joke…
“Sir John, to Master Brook you yet shall hold your word; for he tonight shall lie with Mistress Ford.”