If My Wind Were But Long Enough To Say My Prayers, I Would Repent

You say he has been thrown in the rivers and has
 been grievously [b]eaten as an old [w]oman: methinks
 there should be terrors in him that he should not 
come; methinks his flesh is punished, he shall have
 no desires.

–Sir Hugh Evans, The Merry Wives of Windsor

Merry Wives
Copyright Javen Tanner, 2014. Image by Samantha Kofford Photography.

 

I’m so glad Shakespeare was as silly as he was profound. But, somehow, the profundity is always there.

Make no mistake, The Merry Wives of Windsor was written to make audiences laugh. To approach it with any other goal in mind would be amateurish.

But I love the fact that in what is often regarded as Shakespeare’s lightest play, he still structures the near farce within a penance rite. It’s a play about Falstaff, the excellent vice of the Henry IV plays, finally being brought to repentance.

First he is baptized, thrown into the Thames to be washed with the laundry. Next he is beaten, a mortification of the flesh to rid him of the desire for evil. And, finally, he is brought to a tree where he is tormented and mocked while wearing what could be considered a thorny crown.

Of course, this all happens in the midst of abundant bawdy humor. This is no morality play. Nor is it a mockery of the sacred. It’s simply this: if Falstaff is going to repent, it’s going to be funny and irreverent.

Advertisements

One Reply to “If My Wind Were But Long Enough To Say My Prayers, I Would Repent”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s