The Seven Ages Of Man by William Shakespeare is also known as ‘All World’s A Stage’ is a dialogue from the Drama As You Like It, Act 2 Scene 7. In this Shakespeare talks about the world as a stage and the people as actors, playing their role while going through the phases, or ages of life.
In Pakistan, in the Sindh English textbook, this poem is in the poetry part for twelfth-grade students. I read it for the first time in twelfth grade.
I always thought about why things happen the way they happen? Why do I do things that I didn’t do before? Where was all this mature thinking a few years back? Somehow, this dialogue or poem by Shakespeare has answered it for me.
Let’s go through the summary before I tell you how The Seven Stages Of Man connect to my, to your and everyone’s life.
Stage One, Infancy:
It is the stage of helplessness and relying on a mother or a nurse. In this stage, a baby has no other way than to be dependent and crying out loud for attention.
Stage Two, Schoolboy:
In this stage, a child starts going to school but he is reluctant, lazy and not happy to go to school. He fears all the challenges and surprises life holds for him.
(Yet, these days, children, especially kindergarteners are super excited to go to school because of the play area and activities.)
Stage Three, Teenager or Lover:
This is the age, where all a teenager thinks about is love, songs, he/she is emotional, sighing, he likes writing poems and is in love. This stage is a foolish stage because when the sentiments and emotions are high, a person lacks better judgment and often make foolish decisions.
Stage Four, Young man or Soldier:
Stage four starts after the teenage years, in this stage, a person is a soldier, bold, hot-headed and fearless. He is career-oriented and motivated to attend the call to action. He works on developing a reputation and for that he thinks more of others and then himself.
Stage Five, Middle Age:
In this stage, the person regards himself as wise, experienced and knowledgeable. He aims to share his views and likes to give speeches to younger people. The person has made a name for himself, he is rich and respected and he enjoys his social status. He enjoys life and things like good food and conversations where people seek his advice.
Stage Six, Old man:
In this stage, a person loses his charms – physical and mental. He looks old and dresses like old people. The world is too wide for him and his influence fades away.
Stage Seven, Second Childhood:
This is the most situational ironic stage. A person who lived the previous six stages with vigor and influence loses his sight, his teeth, his sanity. He is forgetful and is dependent on others the way he was in his childhood. This is the second childhood. This stage is also called the winter season of human life. Because of its harsh reality, that worldly life ends in this stage, and death summons him.
Like everything else in human life, human himself is temporary too. His age, his influence, his prosperity, his beauty, his power, his wits, and intelligence is also temporary.
What inspired me to write this blog-post?
The questions I asked in the starting in this blog-post are the main reason I wrote this blog-post. I completed my F.Sc. a few years back but this poem “The Seven Ages Of Man” has never left me. I always find myself thinking about it. Somehow, I relate to this “The Seven Ages Of Man” and maybe others would too.
The Stages I Have Been Through
As an infant, I can’t tell how I was.
The first memory I have of me of going to school is a little girl in a school uniform crying in her brother’s arms because she didn’t want to go to school. Then, in the school crying in front of the teacher because she was afraid of all the people around her. Finally, the teacher had sent that girl back home within an hour because she didn’t stop crying.
In my early teenage years, I was super obsessed with games, music, and movies.
In high school, I had given a presentation on this poem. After the presentation when my English professor had asked me, “What stage are you in?” I had replied with “Stage four, the stage of a soldier”.
Why did I say it?
Thinking, I was a soldier. I was wrong. I was a lover.
Emotional, into music and poetry, romance, in the fairytales of someone coming to get me. Happy for no particular reason, I felt myself on cloud nine. Nothing could bring me down from there, no sort of pain and trials. That is how you’re a fool when you’re a lover, your better judgment is killed and your sentiments rule over you. This is how the stage of lover works.
But, becoming a soldier ain’t easy, it only comes after you have passed the stage of a lover.
I think now, why was I not a soldier from the start? Why did I give away so many years of my life in thinking of nothing but stupid teenage love? Why didn’t I start doing something for myself, my career?
This poem has answered that for me. I cannot be a wise yet, because right now I’m a soldier.
Everything comes your way when it is it’s time to come. Things are revealed to you when it’s their time. You meet certain people at certain times, even though they were always near but you only get to meet them when it is the right time.
Experiences and people contribute to making you ready for your next stage. If they were not there you would always be stuck on the same stage and if they came before time, you’d have never noticed them and if you did, you ‘d have been confused with their existence in your life.
These are my thoughts about The Seven Ages Of Man By William Shakespeare. I would love to hear from you guys what you thought about it and if you relate to The Seven Ages Of Man too.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their 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;
And 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 honor, 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,
With 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 side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
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