Summary of All the World's a Stage

The poem “All the World’s a Stage” is written by the renowned poet William Shakespeare and is taken from his play “As You Like It.” The poem is also known as “The Seven Ages Of Man.”

The poem contains no rhyme scheme. This type of poem is known as free verse. This poem employs the following figures of speech: inversion, alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor, repetition, personification, and simile.

The poet describes the seven ages of life by comparing the world to a stage and each of us to actors on that stage of life. There are seven distinct stages or acts namely infancy, childhood, adolescence, youth, middle age, old age, and dotage. When we are born, we enter the stage, and when we die, we exit. The poem emphasizes the fleeting nature of life and the futility of man’s efforts to amass wealth and fame because we leave this world empty-handed and as helpless as we entered it. As a result, accepting life as it comes and playing our roles to the best of our abilities is the key to living a contented and happy life. The poem teaches us to appreciate and enjoy every stage and moment of our lives, and to make the most of what we have.

The poet narrates the seven ages of life by comparing the world to a stage and each one of us to actors playing an individual role on that stage of life. Our entrance is our birth and our exit is our death In a lifetime, each one of us plays many parts and each part is compared to an act in a play. 

The first stage is that of an infant who cries. vomiting milk on the nurse’s arms. 

In the second stage,  as a schoolboy, he drags himself unwillingly to school. 

In the third stage. man as a lover, sighs in separation and writes poems about his beloved beauty. 

As a soldier, in the fourth stage, he is ready to take strange oaths. The poet compares him to a fierce leopard who is jealous Of others’ honour and is very quick to quarrel. He is ready to risk his life for a short-lived reputation by jumping in front of a cannon. 

The fifth stage is the justice stage, well-fed with chicken. His appearance is formal and he looks mature. He uses wise sayings, proverbs and examples from the modern age. This is where he has reached middle age and gained maturity. 

Old age is the sixth stage of a man’s life, where he wears pantaloons and slippers on his feet. He is now thin, lean and weak, and his eyesight too has become weak. His manly voice has turned into the shrill voice of a child. Where he speaks it appears as if he were playing upon a pipe or as if he were whistling (due to gaps in his teeth some of which have fallen out). 

The last stage of man’s life is dotage. In this stage, he is somewhat senile, completely dependent on others and helpless like a child as he is now nearing death. This is the stage of second childhood, as like a child, at this stage a man needs help with everything. He loses his teeth. eyesight and taste and becomes forgetful. This completes his part in the play of life, as after this he leaves the stage, or in other words, he dies.


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