Context: As the play progresses, Sir John Falstaff sees himself as a great lover and decides to have affairs with the wives of both Master Ford and Master Page in order to get at the family purses. The two ladies talk and discover that Falstaff has sent each identical love notes. The two are not at all interested in his propositions, but they decide to have some fun at the fat knight's expense. Of course, neither husband is told what is being planned, but an informer tells both of them that the wives are going to be unfaithful and thereby cuckold the two men. After the two ladies plot their scheme, Mistress Ford decides the meeting time and sends word to Falstaff. Master Ford is also informed of the rendezvous by one of Sir John's followers. Mistress Ford and Mistress Page had plotted for Mistress Page to come in just after Falstaff arrives, and Mistress Ford would hide him in a dirty clothes basket. Mistress Ford had previously instructed two servants to carry out the basket and dump Falstaff into the river. Not only does Mistress Page appear but also Master Ford and several of his friends; thus Falstaff is doubly ready to hide in the laundry basket. Being so obese, he of course sinks rapidly to the river bottom when dumped by the servants.
FALSTAFF. . .. . . The rogues slighted me into the river with as little remorse, as they would have drowned a bitch's blind puppies, fifteen i' th' litter; and you may know by my size, that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking. If the bottom were as deep as hell, I should down. I had been drowned, but that the shore was shelvy and shallow. A death that I abhor. For the water swells a man; and what a thing should I have been, when I had been swelled! I should have been a mountain of mummy.