Author(s): William Shakespeare
Although it contains elements of Plautus's comedies and Italian novelle, The Merry Wives of Windsor does not have a known source. The play differs from Shakespeare's other comedies of this period in that it is set not in an imaginary country but in Windsor and the small-town rural life of Shakespeare's own day.Shakespeare's ploy in this engaging comedy is to introduce the character of Falstaff, already a household name in London in the late 1590s, into a nonhistorical plot where he occupies a very different role from that of the Henry IV plays. Along with him, Shakespeare also imports some other characters who appear in the Henry IV plays, such as Pistol, Bardolph, Nym, Mistress Quickly, and Justice Shallow. They are all in a delightfully new environment. Falstaff takes a fancy to two married women, Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, who are said to control their own financial affairs and thus to be moderately wealthy.