King Jealousy Dethroned—But Not Killed

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From William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor:


“Ford: Pardon me, wife.  Henceforth do what thou wilt.

 I rather will suspect the sun with cold

Than thee with wantonness.  Now doth thy honor stand,

In him that was of late an heretic,

As firm as faith” (Shakespeare IV.iv.6-10).


Finally, Ford can see the truth and his jealous paranoia dissolves.  Mrs. Ford tells Mr. Ford the whole story.  Mr. Ford believes her, all is well, and they unite to play one final prank of Falstaff…can you say unbelievable or what?  If Mr. Ford is so prone to jealousy, (which he was even before the Falstaff incident, “Mrs. Ford: O that my husband saw this letter!  It would give eternal food to his jealousy” (II.i.96-7)) would he so readily believe his wife that nothing was going on between her and this man she admits to having met secretly?  Would not instead, his unsettled thoughts lead him to construct a reality in which Mrs. Ford and Falstaff were seeing each other?  Would he not envision Mrs. Ford, knowing that her husband suspects them, fabricating the story that she tells him?  Yet, instead, Mr. Ford becomes the model of rationality.  He trusts her word without a second thought, and even promises never to doubt her again.  It just seems rather hard to swallow to me.  If there was a Merry Wives of Windsor 2, I bet Mr. Ford would be back to his previous suspicions.         


Angela Palumbo said:

I agree with you. A person does not simply let go and begin to trust again. Trust is a personality trait, you either have it or you do not. If you don't have it, you have to work harder than simply being proven wrong to change your despicable ways. A person like Ford needs to look within and say, "Geez, I'm being absolutely ridiculous! I really need to ease up or I'm going to cause some serious problems for myself.
Don't get me wrong, your earn trust. You don't simply give it out to anyone. When you meet someone you obviously wouldn't divulge your deepest darkest secret to them. With time, you can learn how trustworthy that person is and move on from there.
I don't believe that Ford has it in him to trust Mrs. Ford like it is right now. Although she hasn't really given him a reason to mistrust him, I too think that he won't give up his jealous ways that quickly.
Great observation Greta! I can always count on you for that!

Greta Carroll said:

Well, I suppose Mr. Ford could have had that moment where he realized how ridiculous he is being. Especially since he has made such a fool of himself in front of his friends. But, I still think it was unrealistic of Shakespeare to have Mr. Ford believe his wife so easily.

Kaitlin Monier said:

It does not seem like Ford is ever genuine. He says he trusts his wife, but I think he was really just putting on a show so he doesn't come across as a lunatic. He has some issues with trust and jealousy and is in denial about them. His problems are still entertaining.

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