Legend says that Queen Elizabeth wished to see
Falstaff in love, and this predominantly prose comedy, The
Merry Wives of Windsor (1597-98), was the result. It
is also said that it was written in a hurry, possibly a
fortnight, and was performed for a Garter celebration at
Windsor in 1597. Never a favorite with academic critics,
it usually is a hit with a theatre-goers.
The play is
often acted in a summer setting; but many lines ("sea-coal
fire," "this raw rheumatic day") indicate that it takes place
in a colder period.
representation of life in an English provincial town refers to
other, older plays; the main plot closely resembles "Il
Pecorone," a 1558 Italian play by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino.
The plot and the primary subplot also draw on ancient Roman
comedy and medieval farce. Though the play does contain
characters both above and below the middle class, as well as
culturally stereotyped foreigners, ultimately everything
functions to demonstrate the assimilating power of the middle
American production was in Philadelphia, in 1770; the first
New York production in 1789.