« 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.
Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like a 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 a good capon lin’d,
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 slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well sav’d, 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. »
This is the famous monologue spoken by Jacques in Act II Scene VII from As You Like It. By writting this monologue, William Shakespeare compare life to a stage and say that a man play different role in different acts in his life. These acts, or « ages » represent the stages of life, they are seven :
The first age is the infancy, when we are a little baby in our nurse’s arms.
In the second age we play the role of a little child, who don’t want to go to school.
The third age is the lover, the part of our life dedicated to the feeling of love.
The fourth age is called « the soldier », when we struggle for honour and reputation.
The fifth age is when we play the role of « Justice », we use knowledge and experience to advice people.
In the sixth age we become more weak and and fragile.
And the last age is compared to a second childhood, because we’re once again dependent to other. And we loose our teeth, our eyes and also our memories, to death.