Merry Wives of Windsor: Novel Summary: Act IV Scene 1-2

 Act IV
Scene 1-2
Scene 1 is a short scene which is a digression from the main plot. Evans tries to instruct Mrs. Pages son William in Latin grammar.
In scene 2, Falstaff speaks to Mrs. Ford in Fords house. But he has only just begun his latest attempt at seduction before Mrs. Page rushes in. Falstaff hides in another room. Mrs. Page announces that Ford, in another wild fit of jealousy, is on his way over to the house, with a group of friends. Falstaff refuses to go in the basket again, but he cannot leave the house, which is already guarded by three of Fords brothers. Mrs. Page has the idea of disguising Falstaff, and then he can leave. Mrs. Ford says that her maids aunt, known as the fat woman of Brainford has a gown upstairs. Falstaff exits to put on the gown, as well as her hat and muffler.
Mrs. Ford wishes that her husband might find Falstaff in this disguise, since he hates the fat woman of Brainford and has threatened to beat her. Once again, the women are pleased with the success of their joke.
Mrs. Ford arranges for the servants to be carrying the linen basket when her husband arrives. Sure enough, when Ford arrives, he demands to see what is in the basket, and pulls the clothes out himself. Of course, there is no one in the basket, and Evans, Shallow and Page reproach him, believing him to be mistaken in his jealousy. Ford persuades them to join him in a search of the house.
Falstaff enters, disguised, with Mrs. Page. Ford is outraged, because he has forbidden the fat woman of Brainford to enter his house. He attacks Falstaff and beats him as he runs away.
When the men exit, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford express their satisfaction at the beating Falstaff received. They plan to tell their husbands everything, and relish the prospect of Falstaffs public shaming. They also say they will be prepared to teach Falstaff another lesson, if their husbands desire it.
Once more Falstaff attempts to seduce Mrs. Ford with ridiculously inflated language (scene 2, lines 1-6). But after that the humor, as with the laundry basket scene, is all physical-Falstaffs disguise, the beating he gets from Ford. There is no subtlety about it. There is also, as some commentators have remarked, some repetitiveness about the plotting. At the close of Act 3, Falstaff divulged his plans once again to the disguised Ford, just as he had done in Act 2, scene 2. And in this scene, the jealous Ford once again rushes to his house and searches for the malefactor. The difference of course is that this time he is successful, even though he does not realize that the intruder is Falstaff. Falstaffs punishment is also more severe in this scene than in the earlier one, since being beaten is surely worse than getting drenched in a dirty laundry basket.