Act II Scene 1
Mrs. Page reads the love letter from Falstaff. She is outraged, especially on account of the fact that she has only met Falstaff a couple of times. She wants revenge on him for writing such a letter.
Mrs. Ford then enters. She is agitated and asks for Mrs. Pages advice. She has, of course, just read the letter that Falstaff wrote to her. She is just as indignant as Mrs. Page is, and also wants revenge. Her plan is to lead Falstaff on by giving him some false hope.
Mrs. Page examines the two letters and finds they are identical, except for the person to whom they are addressed. She is indignant, and thinks that Falstaff probably has a thousand such letters prepared, with a blank space where he inserts a different name each time.
The two women resolve to trick Falstaff by arranging a meeting with him and leading him on him on until he has pawned all his horses to the Host of the Garter Inn. They think that pawning his horses is the only way Falstaff will be able to raise enough money to pursue his courtship of them.
Mrs. Ford lets on that her husband is a jealous man, while Mrs. Page confesses that her husband is not. The two men then enter, with Pistol and Nym. Pistol is explaining to Ford that Falstaff is after his wife. Ford at first has a hard time believing this, since his wife is not young. But Pistol insists that what he says is true, and he also tells Page to believe what Nym is about to tell him.
After Pistol exits, Ford says he intends to get to the bottom of the matter. Nym then tells Page that Falstaff loves Pages wife. After Nym exits, Page says he does not believe what he has been told, calling Nym a rogue.
Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page see Quickly coming, and they resolve to use her to convey their message to Falstaff.
After the women exit, Ford and Page discuss the allegations against Falstaff. Page dismisses them, saying that Falstaff would not do such a thing, and that those who informed on him are former men of his, so probably-he implies-have a grudge against him. He also says that even if Falstaff did have designs on his wife, he is confident that nothing would come of it. Ford is not so sure, however, and says that he would not trust his wife with Falstaff.
The Host and then Shallow enter. They invite Page to come and watch a duel to be fought between Evans and Caius. Shallow takes Page aside and tells him that the Host has in fact told the duelers to go to different locations. Host speaks privately to Ford, and says he will introduce Ford, under the name of Brook, to Falstaff. After the Host, Shallow and Page exit, Ford speaks of his suspicions of his wife. She and Falstaff were together at Pages house, and he does not know what might have happened there. He resolves to pursue the matter by sounding out Falstaff.
This scene reveals just how formidable these “merry wives of Windsor” are. They are not so much merry as vengeful, and poor Falstaff has no idea of what he has got himself into. In this play, it is the women who are in charge. It is easy to see why, from their forceful reactions to Falstaffs pitiful attempt to seduce them, that they dominate their husbands (remember that they control their husbands money, which is why Falstaff is pursuing them).
This scene also continues the comic parallel and contrast between the two different kinds of wooing in the play, one legitimate and moral, the other illegitimate and immoral. This is accomplished by having Mistress Quickly act as a go-between for Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page, just as she does for the suitors of Anne Page.
Act II Scene 1