Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements for “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by William Shakespeare that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by Shakespeare in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by William Shakespeare or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Merry Wives of Windsor” at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Issue of Trust in The Merry Wives of Windsor
Trust is something that is not to be taken lightly in The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare. Throughout the play, it seems as if there is no one who truly trusts anyone, except for maybe the trust between the womenfolk. The first breach of trust lies with Pistol and Nym, Falstaff’s servants. These two run to Masters Page and Ford after being humiliated by Falstaff to tell the men of their master’s plan to seduce their wives. This is where the second breach of trust occurs in this Shakespeare play. While Master Page is convinced that his wife is trustworthy, Master Ford becomes horribly jealous and resolves that his wife will certainly cheat on him, given the chance. These seem to be two very conflicting degrees of trust. Looking at these two characters in Shakespeare's “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and their relationships with their wives, do you think Ford has a reason to be worried? Do you think that the servants were right in breaching their master’s trust? Does trust have a lot to do with the way the relationships function in this Shakespeare play?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Revenge in The Merry Wives of Windsor by Shakespeare
Throughout Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, there are many people who are attempting to attain justice for a slight done unto them. Pistol and Nym tell Page and Ford of Falstaff’s plans in order to get revenge for his cruel treatment of them. Mistress Ford and Mistress Page scheme against Falstaff in order to get revenge for his low opinion of their ability to stay true to their husbands and his obviously low view of their character. Master Ford attempts to get revenge on Mistress Ford for her possible marital indiscretion, and Mistress Quickly is willing to play a joke on anyone, even if they have done nothing to her. In what ways does the final act against Falstaff reflect all of the minor tricks in the play? Do you think that scaring him in the woods is a good way to make him change his ways? The play does not have a vengeful tone, in fact it is quite upbeat despite all of the trickery. What do you think is the purpose behind that?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Character Analysis of Falstaff in Shakespeare's The Merry Wives ofWindsor
The Merry Wives of Windsor is interesting because it seems true that although Falstaff is pursuing two married women, he is not doing it out of lust or love. Instead, to him, wrecking the marriages of the Fords or the Pages seems like simply an easy way to get money. Indeed, he is even willing to double cross Mrs. Ford two times, as he is hoping to seduce her to gain control of her purse strings, and also to report to Brook when he has succeeded in the seduction, thus earning even more money. Do you think that there is anything Falstaff won’t do for money? Is there any amount of collateral damage, besides damage to himself, that may be too great? With that in mind, is the trickery played upon him just revenge for his mischievous deeds
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: Betrayal in The Merry Wives of Windsor
Although the most obvious betrayal, an adulterous breach of marital vows, never occurs in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, there are many other types of betrayal that abound. First of all, Pistol and Nym betray Falstaff by going to Ford and Page about his deeds, and Ford betrays the vows of his marriage by distrusting his wife so quickly. However, the betrayals do not stop there. Instead, Ford also betrays his wife by running home to check on her every time he hears Falstaff is coming to visit, and in turn, Mistress Ford betrays her husband by playing jokes on him every time Falstaff is around. Falstaff perhaps gets the brunt of the betrayal, by trusting in Mrs. Ford as a possible lover and in Mr. Ford as he plays Mr. Brooks. Although these betrayals are slight, to they belay deeper foundational problems within these relationships? Why do you think Shakespeare found it important to include so many small breaches of trust?
This list of important quotations from “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by William Shakespeare will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by William Shakespeare listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for Shakespeare's “The Merry Wives of Windsor” above, these quotes alone with page numbers or line and scene numbers can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way.
“You have beaten my men, killed my deer, and broke open my lodge" (I.i.53)
“I warrant he hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank space for different names" (II.i.16)
“If he should intend this voyage towards my wife, I would turn her loose to him; and what he gets more of her than sharp words, let it lie on my head" (II.i.70)
“O, how have you deceived me! Look, here is a basket: if he be of any reasonable stature, he may creep in here; and throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to bucking: or–it is whiting-time–send him by your two men to Datchet-mead” (III.iii.53)
“I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or Sir John" (III.iii.73)
“Divide me like a brib’d buck, each a haunch: I will keep my sides to myself, my shoulders for the fellow of this walk, and my horns I bequeath your husbands" (V.v.8)
“Fie on sinful fantasy! Fie on lust and luxury! Lust is but a bloody fire, Kindled with unchaste desire, Fed in heart, whose flames aspire As thoughts do blow them, higher and higher. Pinch him, fairies, mutually; Pinch him for his villainy; Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him about, Till candles and starlight and moonshine be out. (V.v.71)
“I will marry her, sir, at your request: but if there be no great love in the beginning, yet heaven may decrease it upon better acquaintance, when we are married.” (I.i.43)
“This is the third time; I hope good luck lies in odd numbers. . . . There is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance or death.” (V.1.8)
Source : Shakespeare, William. The Norton Shakespeare. 1. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997.