The Merry Wives of Windsor | John M. Steadman

This literature criticism consists of approximately 28 pages of analysis & critique of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
This section contains 8,262 words
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SOURCE: "Falstaff as Actaeon: A Dramatic Emblem," in Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. XIV, No. 3, Summer, 1963, pp. 231-44.

Here, Steadman compares Falstaff to the Renaissance myth of Actaeon by examining each character's relationship with the themes of lust and corrupt desire.

In the final act of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare confronts his audience with an obvious burlesque of the Actaeon myth. In impersonating Herne the Hunter, Sir John becomes a comic counterpart of the legendary hunter from Thebes. As Professor Bullough has observed, there is a certain "poetic justice" in Shakespeare's exploitation of this parallel. "Actaeon had become a cant-name for a cuckold", and when Falstaff "dons the horns which he would have placed on Ford's brows he suffers the poetic justice of a failed Don Juan."

1 Professor Bullough has likewise emphasized the dramatist's indebtedness to Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses: "That Shakespeare had Ovid in mind...

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This section contains 8,262 words
(approx. 28 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the John M. Steadman
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John M. Steadman from Literature Criticism Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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