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William Shakespeare(15641616)was born in Stratford-uponAvon. He is considered by many to
be the greatest dramatist of all
time. He wrote 154 sonnets,two
long narrative poems and about
three dozen plays. Shakespeare
used poetic and dramatic means to
create unified aesthetic effects.
In verse he perfected the
dramatic blank verse.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier.
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour , sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation.
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly, with good capon lined,
W eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans
The theme of the Seven Ages of Man is
the cycle of life. This is clearly expressed
by the infant who progresses to an invalid
old man through the seven stages. He
starts by picking up on something the
Duke has said and reflects, 'All the
world's a stage, and all the men and women
• Similes: figures of speech that compares two
unlike things, using the words like or as . e.g : c re e p ing like s na il
s ig hing like furna c e
• Alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds
at the beginning of words. e.g : a world too wide
for his shrunk shank
• Metaphor: figures of speech that compares two
unlike things, without using the words like or as .
e.g : bubble reputation
All the world’s a stage
“THE SEVEN AGES” is actually one of
the many speeches of a melancholy
character Jaques, in Shakespeare’s
play “As You Like It” . It presents a
cynical view of life that is held by a
person who looks only at the dark
side of things. The idea that a man’s
life consists of seven ages was an
everyday saying in Shakespeare’s
The first and foremost act of every
human being is the stage of infancy,
where he makes his presence felt by
crying at the top of his voice and
many a times vomiting any food or
drink that is repulsive, at the
nursing arms of his mother. This
period normally last till four years of
The second stage is the ‘whining’ schoolboy
where he learns to utter a plaintive, highpitched sound, as in pain, fear, or complaint.
His shiny morning face and his satchel; a small
bag, sometimes with a shoulder strap; he
creeps like a snail and not willing to go to
The third stage is his early youth, the
peak of love and high romance. He
sighs like a burning furnace and sings
the sad ballads of romance; full of
woe; affected with, characterized by,
or indicating woe: woeful melodies; to
impress his lover’s heart. The
impression of her reply can be seen in
The fourth stage is that of a soldier where life if
full of obligations, commitments, compliances, oaths
and vows. His beard is like a leopard or panther. He
endlessly fights for his honour, a full presence of
mind which is sudden and quick in quarrel and a
heart to maintain a dignified reputation.
The fifth stage is the adult-hood where a man tries to
live a fair and justified life. His belly becomes bigger
than normal. He is conscious about his diet and consumes
a good intake of ‘capon’; a cockerel castrated to improve
the flesh for use as food. His eyes are severe with
seriousness and his beard is leveled to a formal cut. He
is to take a lot of correct decisions to keep up with the
ever changing times. So this stage is the most powerful
stage in life.
The sixth stage is the middle-age. Here is where he prepares
himself for the next level in life i.e. old age. He learns to relax from
the hustles of life. His strength begins to weaken and spends more time
within the roof of his house. He looks like an old fool in his rugged old
slippers. He hangs his spectacles on his nose for reading and all his
youthful hose; a flexible tube for conveying a liquid, as water, to a
desired point; saved for the world too wide. His shank begins to shrink
with time; the part of the lower limb in humans between the knee and
the ankle; leg. Even his voice begins to descend to a lower tone. In his
free time, he smokes his pipe and whistles his matured
The last stage is the old-age where he enters his
second childhood. It is also the beginning of the
end of his eventful history. It is also the stage of
oblivion; the state of being completely forgotten
or unknown; the state of forgetting or of being
oblivious; official disregard or overlooking of
offenses; He is without everything; without teeth,
eyes and taste.
• Question: The poet compares the
world to _________.
a)a story book
c) a stage
Question: The poet compares
"exit" to _______.
• Question: In the second stage of
life man ________.
a. mews and pukes
b. goes to school unwillingly
c. cries in his nurses lap
d. sings and plays
• Question: As a young lover,
according to the poet, man _____.
a) learns to dance
b) composes ballads for his beloved
c) goes hunting in the forest
d) does exercises to build his muscles
• Question: The poet describes
man as a soldier in the ________.
a) Third stage
b) Fourth stage
c) Fifth stage
d) Sixth stage
“Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful
Made to his mistress' eyebrows”.
a. Name the stage in man's life.
Ans. This is the lover's stage.
b. What is 'woeful ballad‘?
Ans. It refers to the sad, romantic verse or song written
about his true love.
c. What is the figure of speech in the first line?
Ans. The figure of speech used is simile - 'sighing like a
Ques. Why has reputation
been described as ‘bubble’?
What is ironical about a
soldier dying for it?
• Ans. Reputation has been described as ‘bubble’because
it is transitory(short-lived) by nature. The irony is
that the soldier does not survive to enjoy the
reputation he has defended.
Ques. Bring out anology
(camparison) between the world
and the stage.
• Ans. Men and women on the earth are merely players in
the drama of life. Just as there are various ‘acts’ or
parts in a play, life has various stages,too. The entrance
in a ‘role’ is comparable to birth and exit is similar to
death. At every stage, like the acts of play, Man’s
character changes. Thus the comparison between life and
drama, between the world and stage is total and absolute.
Ques. What are the similarities
between last and first stage of
Ans. Just as man in his infancy is absolutely helpless and
totally dependent ,man is the last stage of senility ,too
becomes totally dependent on others. Weak and feeble, with
all his senses failing, he is not able to do anything himself.
Toothless like an infant his voice too becomes child like. It is
t this stage of life that he stands at the threshold of death.