"All the World a Stage" by William Shakespeare
This sonnet of Shakespeare is from his famous play “As You Like It”.
This poem describes various stages of human life. Life has been compared to a play or drama played by
every man and woman on the stage of the world. His seven stages of life are the seven acts of a play.
This shows Shakespeare’s deep knowledge and transience of human life.
Lines 1 – 5
In these lines the poet compares this world to a stage. All men and women are only actors and actresses on the stage of this world. All these people have different routes to enter this stage and also have different exits to go out. They enter this stage when they are born and leave this stage when they die. Every person, during his life time plays many parts. These parts are called seven ages. These ages are actually like acts of a play.
Lines 5 – 10
The first stage of a man’s life is his infancy. During his infancy he cries and throws up milk and vomits when he is in the hands of a mother or a nurse. The second stage is his boy-hood. This is his school going period. It is the time when he complains all the time. His face shines like the bright and fresh morning. He carries his school bag and unwillingly goes to school at the speed of an insect.
Lines 10 – 12
This is the third stage of man’s life. Now he is a grown up person and assumes the form of a lover. It is the time when he loves his beloved ardently. He sighs like a furnace or an oven. He writes a song in praise of his beloved’s eye or brow. He also sings such songs again and again as he burns in his emotions.
Lines 12 – 16
In these lines the poet shows the fourth stage of a man’s life. When he matures, he becomes a soldier. He takes strange oaths. He has a beard like a tiger or a leopard. He is fierce like these animals. During this stage of life, man is jealous of honour of other. He is very quick-tempered and owns quarrels. Since he is warm-blooded, he looks for temporary reputation and fame. To achieve this temporary fame, he is even ready to go into the mouth of a gun. He does not bother
Lines 16 – 20
This is the fifth stage of man’s life. Here man becomes middle aged and mature like a judge and has a fair round belly full of the meat of chickens. Perhaps, he has become fit because he eats meat and fat castrated cocks in excess. It is the stage when he is firm, serious and grim. His conversation is full of many different proverbs of the world of the past and is also full of the examples from the modern age. He has beard of formal cut and as such plays this part of life.
Lines 20 – 26
This is the sixth stage of man’s life. In this stage man shifts from middle age, to old age. Now he wears pantaloon with slippers on his feet. He has become thin, weak and lean. He wears now spectacles on his nose because of his weak eyesight. He has also a purse by his side in which he keeps money and tobacco. He uses long socks which he has saved during his youth. Now these socks are very loose to his lean leg and look strange. His big loud manly voice has turned into
the shrill voice of a child. Since, some of his teeth have fallen, whenever he tries to speak. Its seems as if he were playing upon a pipe or as if he were whistling.
Lines 27 – 29
This is the last stage of man’s life. In this stage he changes from his old age to the oldest one. This is a strange stage of life. In this period all the life which has been previously full of strange events, comes to an end. Man becomes child once again. This is like his second childhood.
In this stage he is childish as well as childlike. At this stage he forgets almost everything. His memory becomes very weak. He loses teeth, eye-sight and taste. He is without everything.
This is the stage in which he completes the drama of his life and leaves the stage of this world for the next.