The amorous old knight Sir John Falstaff, who is proud of his portly belly, believes that Alice Ford and Meg Page are attracted to him and writes love letters to both in the hope of seducing them. Alice and Meg read the letters together and are amused to find that they are identical. Together with the quick-witted Mistress Quickly, they decide to teach Falstaff a lesson. Meanwhile, Ford also learns of Falstaff's plan to seduce his wife and sets out to punish the knight. Mistress Quickly visits Falstaff and arranges the rendezvous with Alice at her house. In turn, Ford, in disguise, visits Falstaff and is shocked to learn he has already set up to meet his wife. Alice receives Falstaff but while he is wooing her, Meg interrupts and he hides in the laundry basket. Shortly after, Ford rushes in with his men to search the house for Falstaff, but instead, he finds his daughter Nannetta and Fenton kissing behind the screen. In amidst this mayhem, the laundry basket containing Falstaff is thrown into the Thames. Falstaff, unrepentant, agrees to meet Alice again, this time in Windsor Great Park at midnight. As they meet, the spirits appear - in fact Ford and the townspeople in disguise, lead by Nannetta as the Fairy Queen - and they pinch and poke the terrified Falstaff until he finally repents. In the confusion, Nannetta and Fenton are married and Ford gives them his blessing. In the final fugue, Falstaff sings "everything in the world is a jest".