One of the best loved comic characters in Shakespeare is Falstaff. He gives life and colour to the plays ( Henry IV and Merry Wives of Windsor) with his vices – eating, drinking, womanising. Here is Hal’s description of Falstaff:
Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper,
and sleeping upon benches after noon….
The audience easily warms towards him because of his youthful attitude to life, humour and ability to get himself out of tight corners. He enjoys the good things in life and is full of merriment and cheer:
Marry, then sweet wag, when thou art king, let us not that are squires of the night’s
be called thieves of the day’s beauty. Let us be Diana’s foresters, gentlemen of the
shade, minions of the moon…..
The adulterer suffers a series of defeats at the hands of Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, for example he is carried out of the house in a basket of dirty linen and dumped in the Thames:
Have I lived to be carried in a basket like a barrow of butcher’s offal,
and to be thrown into the Thames? Well, if I be served such another trick,
I’ll have my brains ta’en out and buttered, and give them to a dog for a New Year’s gift