The Merry Wives of Windsor "Vengeance Of Jenny's Case"

William Shakespeare

"Vengeance Of Jenny's Case"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: During one of the minor interludes, Mistress Page asks the schoolmaster if her son is making progress in school. Sir Hugh Evans then asks several questions of young William Page in order to prove to his mother that the boy is learning. Mistress Quickly, who is a female messenger and informer and who has been discussing the Falstaff plot with Mistress Page, stands by to hear William's recital. As William answers the questions put to him by Evans, Mistress Quickly reflects her lack of learning in making rather vulgar humor out of his answers. For one of the questions, Evans asks William to recite the "genitive case plural" in Latin, and his answer is "horum, harum, horum." Mistress Quickly immediately pounces on this answer and proclaims that William has said that Jenny is a whore and calls for "Vengeance of Jenny's case!" Her misconstruction of the dialogue and her play on words is brought out in the quote below, which gave the title to Rossetti's famous poem "Jenny."


EVANS
What is your genitive case plural, William?
WILLIAM
Genitive case?
EVANS
Ay.
WILLIAM
Genitivo horum, harum, horum.
QUICKLY
Vengeance of Jenny's case! Fie on her!
Never name her, child, if she be a whore.
EVANS
For shame 'oman!
QUICKLY
You do ill to teach the child such words. He teaches him to hick and to hack; which they'll do fast enough of themselves, and to call horum; fie upon you!