A line-by-line translation

The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 3, Scene 2

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Enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN

MISTRESS PAGE

Nay, keep your way, little gallant; you were wont to be a follower, but now you are a leader. Whether had you rather lead mine eyes, or eye your master's heels?

MISTRESS PAGE

No, go your own way, my fine young man, You're used to being a servant, but now you're in charge. Would you prefer to direct me, or to follow your master? 

ROBIN

I had rather, forsooth, go before you like a manthan follow him like a dwarf.

ROBIN

I would rather direct you like a grown man than follow Falstaff like a young boy. 

MISTRESS PAGE

O, you are a flattering boy: now I see you'll be a courtier.

MISTRESS PAGE

Oh, you use nice language. I see you'll be a courtier.

Enter FORD

FORD

Well met, Mistress Page. Whither go you?

FORD

It's nice to see you, Mistress Page. Where are you going?

MISTRESS PAGE

Truly, sir, to see your wife. Is she at home?

MISTRESS PAGE

Actually, to see your wife. Is she at home?

FORD

Ay; and as idle as she may hang together, for want of company. I think, if your husbands were dead, you two would marry.

FORD

Yes, and she's as bored and lonely as can be, because she doesn't have any company. If your husbands were dead, I think the two of you would get married.

MISTRESS PAGE

Be sure of that,—two other husbands.

MISTRESS PAGE

Yes, we would—we'd marry two other men.

FORD

Where had you this pretty weather-cock?

FORD

Where did you find this handsome young servant?

MISTRESS PAGE

I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of. What do you call your knight's name, sirrah?

MISTRESS PAGE

I don't remember who my husband hired him from. What did you say your boss's name was, young man? 

ROBIN

Sir John Falstaff.

ROBIN

Sir John Falstaff.

FORD

Sir John Falstaff!

FORD

Sir John Falstaff!

MISTRESS PAGE

He, he; I can never hit on's name. There is such a league between my good man and he! Is your wife at home indeed?

MISTRESS PAGE

Ha, ha, I can never remember his name. He's such good friends with my husband! Is your wife really at home?

FORD

Indeed she is.

FORD

Yes, she is. 

MISTRESS PAGE

By your leave, sir: I am sick till I see her.

MISTRESS PAGE

I'll go see her with your permission. I'm dying to see her. 

Exeunt MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN

FORD

Has Page any brains? hath he any eyes? hath he any thinking? Sure, they sleep; he hath no use of them. Why, this boy will carry a letter twenty mile, as easy as a cannon will shoot point-blank twelve score. He pieces out his wife's inclination; he gives her folly motion and advantage: and now she's going to my wife, and Falstaff's boy with her. A man may hear this shower sing in the wind. And Falstaff's boy with her! Good plots, they are laid; and our revolted wives share damnation together. Well; I will take him, then torture my wife, pluck the borrowed veil of modesty from the so seeming Mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure and wilful Actaeon; and to these violent proceedings all my neighbours shall cry aim.

FORD

Does Page have a brain? Can he see anything? Is he thinking? I'm sure he's not using his brain or his eyes. Why, this boy will carry letters between them as easily as a cannon can shoot straight for two-hundred-forty yards. Page increases his wife's sexual desire. He encourages her desire and gives her the opportunity to act on it, and now she's going to visit my wife, and Falstaff's servant is going with her. Anyone could see that trouble is coming. And Falstaff's servant is going with her! They're hatching plans, and our disloyal wives are planning to do this terrible thing together. Well; I'll take Falstaff by surprise, then confront my wife, then reveal how unfaithful this apparently well-behaved Mistress Page is, reveal that Page is overconfident and willing to be a cuckold, and my neighbors will applaud me for doing all these harsh things.

Clock heard

FORD

The clock gives me my cue, and my assurance bids me search: there I shall find Falstaff: I shall be rather praised for this than mocked; for it is as positive as the earth is firm that Falstaff is there: I will go.

FORD

The clock tells me that it's time to go, and I'm certain that I should go search the house. I'll find Falstaff there. I will be praised for acting this way, not made fun of, because it's absolutely certain that Falstaff is at my house. I will go.

Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, SLENDER, Host, SIR HUGH EVANS, DOCTOR CAIUS, and RUGBY

& C

Well met, Master Ford.

THE COMPANY

It's nice to see you, Master Ford.

FORD

Trust me, a good knot: I have good cheer at home;and I pray you all go with me.

FORD

What a fine group of people! I have good food and drink at home. Please come with me.

SHALLOW

I must excuse myself, Master Ford.

SHALLOW

I'm afraid I can't come, Master Ford.

SLENDER

And so must I, sir: we have appointed to dine withMistress Anne, and I would not break with her formore money than I'll speak of.

SLENDER

And neither can I, sir. We have an appointment to eat with Mistress Anne, and I wouldn't miss the appointment for any amount of money.

SHALLOW

We have lingered about a match between Anne Page andmy cousin Slender, and this day we shall have our answer.

SHALLOW

We have delayed in arranging a marriage between Anne Page and my cousin Slender, and we'll settle it today.

SLENDER

I hope I have your good will, father Page.

SLENDER

I hope you support me marrying her, father Page.

PAGE

You have, Master Slender; I stand wholly for you:but my wife, master doctor, is for you altogether.

PAGE

I do, Master Slender. I'm completely on your side, but my wife is on your side, Master Doctor.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Ay, be-gar; and de maid is love-a me: my nursh-aQuickly tell me so mush.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Yes, by God, and the young lady loves me. My housekeeper Quickly told me so.

HOST

What say you to young Master Fenton? he capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he speaks holiday, he smells April and May: he will carry't, he will carry't; 'tis in his buttons; he will carry't.

HOST

What do you think about young Master Fenton? He leaps and dances, he has young eyes, he writes poetry, he speaks cheerfully, he smells like spring. He will succeed, he will succeed. Thanks to his youthful potential, he will succeed. 

PAGE

Not by my consent, I promise you. The gentleman is of no having: he kept company with the wild prince and Poins; he is of too high a region; he knows too much. No, he shall not knit a knot in his fortunes with the finger of my substance: if he take her, let him take her simply; the wealth I have waits on my consent, and my consent goes not that way.

PAGE

I won't agree to it, I promise you. The gentleman has no property. He hangs out with the wild prince and Poins; his social status is too high; he's too sophisticated. No, he won't increase his property with any of my property. If he wants to marry Anne, she won't have a dowry. I won't give her any money without my consent, and I don't consent to her marrying Fenton. 

FORD

I beseech you heartily, some of you go home with me to dinner: besides your cheer, you shall have sport; I will show you a monster. Master doctor, you shall go; so shall you, Master Page; and you, Sir Hugh.

FORD

I urge you, some of you come home with me to have dinner. Besides good food, you'll have good entertainment—I'll show you a spectacle. Master Doctor, you'll come. So will you, Master Page, and you, Sir Hugh.

SHALLOW

Well, fare you well: we shall have the freer wooingat Master Page's.

SHALLOW

Well, good-bye. 

[To SLENDER so that only he can hear]
 It will be easier to woo Anne at Master Page's house.

Exeunt SHALLOW, and SLENDER

DOCTOR CAIUS

Go home, John Rugby; I come anon.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Go home, John Rugby. I'll come soon.

Exit RUGBY

HOST

Farewell, my hearts: I will to my honest knightFalstaff, and drink canary with him.

HOST

Good-bye, my friends. I'm going to go see that good knight Falstaff, and drink wine with him.

Exit

FORD

[Aside] I think I shall drink in pipe wine firstwith him; I'll make him dance. Will you go, gentles?

FORD

[To himself] I think I'll make things rough for Falstaff first. I'll get him. Will you come with me, good men? 

ALL

Have with you to see this monster.

ALL

We're coming to see this spectacle.

Exeunt

The merry wives of windsor
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Maria devlin
About the Translator: Maria Devlin

Maria Devlin received her Ph.D. in English Literature from Harvard University, where she specialized in Renaissance drama. She has worked as a bibliographical and editorial assistant for The Norton Anthology of English Literature and for The Norton Shakespeare. She is currently working with Stephen Greenblatt to design online courses on Shakespeare, including the modules "Hamlet's Ghost" and "Shylock's Bond" offered through HarvardX. She is writing a book on Renaissance comedy.

Maria Devlin wishes to credit the following sources, which she consulted extensively in composing her translations and annotations:

William Shakespeare. The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition. Eds. Gary Taylor et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

William Shakespeare. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York: W.W. Norton& Company, Inc., 2016.