Merry Wives of Windsor: Novel Summary: Act II Scene 3 - Act III Scene 1

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Act II Scene 3
- Act III Scene 1
In a field near Windsor, Dr. Caius is angry that Evans has not shown up for the duel. Page, Shallow, Slender and the Host enter, telling Caius that they have come to see the duel, even though they know that Evans has been directed to another place, the other side of town. Caius claims Evans is a coward. He still wants to kill him.
The men plan to continue their joke at Caius's expense. They agree to take him to Frogmore, where Evans has been sent. But they tell Caius they are taking him to see Anne Page, and he will have the opportunity to woo her. The Host even promises to be his advocate.
In the next scene, at a field near Frogmore, Evans awaits Caius for the duel and sends Simple out to look for him. After Simple exits, Evans reveals that secretly he is relieved Caius has not shown up.
Page, Shallow and Slender enter. Pretending that they do not know what the situation is, they tell Evans that Caius is nearby, and is very upset at being wronged. In a show of bravado, Evans denounces him as a cowardly knave.
The Host, Caius and Rugby enter. Evans and Caius offer to fight, but Evans also takes Caius aside and offers him friendship, while saying aloud for the benefit of the others that he will beat Caius up for reneging on his appointment. Caius makes some aggressive remarks, but the Host calms the situation down and confesses that he deliberately directed them to different places because he did not want to lose either his doctor (Caius) or his priest (Evans). He asks them to put away their swords and be reconciled. After the Host exits, Caius and Evans agree to be revenged on him for his deceit. Caius is angry because he was told that he would be meeting Anne Page there.
Analysis
These short scenes are mostly a diversion from the main plots. Both are examples of dramatic irony, which occurs when the audience, or the other characters, know something about the situation that one or more characters do not. In Act 2, scene 2, for example, all but Caius know that Evans has been deliberately directed by the Host to another part of town, so the duel will not take place. (This information is conveyed in Act 2, scene 1.) The humor of the scene consists in the mocking of the pompous and hot-tempered Caius, and his exclamations in terrible English, just as the humor of Act 3, scene 1 is at the expense of Evans, the other would-be duelist. The humor lies in the contrast between Evans's fighting words and his real, less courageous sentiments.

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