Does The Merry Wives of Windsor configure as a farce, which is to say its characters and action are stylised as cartoons, the end being to prompt hilarity untouched by more complex response? It is true the play has an almost widdershins pace in presenting its situations with extravagant confusions, outlandish disguises, a hectic plot. There are escapes from the “bedroom”, duckings in the river, beatings, pinchings and scorchings. A duel is called but remains unfought through mismanagement. The two wives, Ford and Page, are indeed merry in their ruses and govern the main impetus of the play’s action with…
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