The Merry Wives of Windsor "What The Dickens"
by William Shakespeare

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"What The Dickens"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: Sir John Falstaff, an old, fat, and foolish lecher, imagines that two light-hearted married women, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, desire him. He sends them identical love-letters. They compare notes, have a good laugh, and resolve to be revenged upon him. In the meantime, their husbands have been informed of Sir John's behavior. Master Page trusts his wife and is undisturbed, but Master Ford is upset and jealous. Now, Mistress Ford has arranged an assignation with Falstaff, but Mistress Page will be with her, and they will make a fool of the fat knight. Mistress Page is on her way to the Ford house. She, preceded by Robin, Sir John Falstaff's handsome little page, encounters Master Ford in the street. She knows he is jealous and makes sport at his expense. He asks about the lad, Robin.

FORDWhere had you this pretty weathercock?MISTRESS PAGEI cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of. What do you call your knight's name, sirrah?ROBINSir John Falstaff.FORDSir John Falstaff!MISTRESS PAGEHe, he, I can never hit on's name. . . .