Act III Scene 4
Fenton tells Anne Page that he is discouraged in his attempt to win her hand, because her father is refusing to support him. He says that at first he courted Anne because her father was wealthy, but he has since come to see that she is worth more than any amount of gold. Anne tells him not to give up, but to continue to seek her fathers favor.
Shallow, Slender and Mistress Quickly enter. They have brought the painfully shy Slender to talk to Anne. He is scared of approaching her, and when he and Shallow do approach, he lets Shallow do all the talking, merely echoing what Shallow says. Anne finally asks Shallow to let Slender woo her by himself. Slender does not do much to advance his cause. He tells Anne that he is wooing her only because her father and his uncle put his name forward. He does not seem to care much whether he marries Anne or not.
Page enters with his wife, and urges Anne to love Slender. He is annoyed to see Fenton there as well, and reiterates that he will not give Fenton permission to marry his daughter.
After Page, Shallow and Slender have gone, Fenton presses his claims with Mrs. Page, saying that he loves Anne. Anne pleads that she does not want to marry Slender, whom she thinks is a fool. Nor does she want to marry Caius, whose suit Mrs. Page appears to be considering. After her daughters protests, Mrs. Page softens her tone, and tells Fenton she will talk to Anne and find out how she feels about him.
Left alone with Fenton, Quickly tells him that is it because of her that he now appears to have a chance with Anne. After Fenton exits, Quickly says that she will in fact continue to act as advocate for Caius and Slender, but also, and specially, for Fenton.
This scene is written partially in verse, the first scene in the play to use verse. Appropriately enough, the blank verse lines are given to Fenton, the gentleman, who explains to Anne that although he pursued her at first for her money, he now loves her for herself. This is the first counterweight to the predominant theme of money as the main motivating factor in prospective marriages. Here it is love that is important, not money, and Fenton and Anne have to figure out a way of enabling love to triumph. The scene with Fenton and Anne is immediately contrasted with the ludicrous attempt of Shallow to get Slender to make an impression on Anne, which he totally fails to do. The message is clear: real love is superior to attempts made by advocates and go-betweens to secure a marriage based on expediency rather than love.
Mistress Quickly is still getting up to her tricks and profiting by them. She convinces Fenton that the softening of Annes mother towards him is her own doing, and then accepts another payment from him. For Quickly, match-making continues to be a profitable business!
Act III Scene 4