ask mattrab Visit www.askmattrab.com for more academic resources.

All the world's a stage

About the poet: 

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, dramatist and actor of the Renaissance era. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in English language and the world's greatest dramatist. His most famous works include Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. 

About the poem: 

This poem is taken from William Shakespeare's play "As You Like It". With these words “all the world’s a stage” begins the monologue by the character Melancholy Jaques in Act II Scene VI of the play. In this poem, Shakespeare has compared life with a stage. The seven stages of a person’s life are infant, school-going boy, lover/husband, soldier/fighter, justice/ ability to understand the right and wrong, Pantalone (greediness and high in status), and old-age; which can come into your mind when you go through this poem with the theme that a person is an ultimate loser in the game of life 


This world is compared to a stage by the poet. On the world's stage, all men and women are merely actors and actresses. 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. The person has several roles to play throughout his life. These parts are known as the seven ages. These ages are actually like acts of a play.  

7 stages: 

  1. 1.An infant crying 

  1. 2.A complaining schoolboy 

  1. 3.A lover 

  1. 4.A bearded soldier 

  1. 5.A wise justice 

  1. 6.An old man 

  1. 7.Second childhood 

The first role of the drama of human life is infancy. In this act, a child completely depends on a nurse. He cries and vomits in the nurse’s arms and cries to be in the comfort of his mother. The next stage is that of a school-going boy with a "shining morning face," which represents a young child's energy. here in this stage, the child goes to school unwillingly. The third stage follows. By this time, s/he has reached early adolescence. This is the love and passion stage. S/he makes love to his/her sweetheart while singing songs for them. 

The poet describes the fourth stage as the stage of a soldier. He grows up and becomes a soldier. He swears odd oaths to protect his nation. He has a tiger or leopard-like beard. Like these beasts, he is ferocious. He works hard for his life, family, and country. During this stage of life, a guy is envious of other people's honor. He has a short fuse and is prone to quarrels. He seeks temporary fame and reputation because he is warm-blooded.  

The fifth stage is the stage of justice. By this time s/he has earned a good experience from life. Now he starts leading a fair and justified life. Physically he changes most. his Eyes become more serious. Now he is able to take lots of important decisions. This is the most powerful stage of life. He is capable to differentiate between wrong and right. the sixth act takes a person to his old age. he enters the stage of the pantaloon. He becomes frail and frail-looking. He puts on his old shoes, spectacles, and slacks that don't suit his shrunk and slender legs. He keeps a pouch around with him. this stage does not last long.

The final stage of a person's life is the stage of second childhood. He goes from his old age to the oldest at this point. This is an odd time in life. During this time, everything in your life that has previously been full of unusual incidents comes to an end. This is his second childhood, and he is both childish and childlike at this point. He has virtually forgotten everything at this point. He has lost his teeth, taste, and almost everything. He becomes like a child once more, helpless and dependent upon others for his/her every little need. This stage ends in the exit from the world (in other words, s/he dies). 


The theme of this poem is the cycle of life. How one starts out helpless, without understanding and ends the same way.