Seven Ages of ManIntroduction of the Poet
William Shakespeare was an English dramatist and poet, considered to be the greatest of all writers. Shakespeare was not only a writer and poet, but also an actor who devoted his life to the theatre.
Introduction the Poem
The poem entitled Seven Ages of Man is one of the best known passages from Shakespeare’s work. This speech is delivered by Amiens in act III, scene VIII of the play As You Like It. Amiens is one of the group of noblemen leading a life of exile with Dukes in the forest of Arden.
In this poem, Shakespeare describes various stages of human life. He compares this world to a stage where men and women as actors and actresses perform the drama of human life. The birth and death of human beings is similar to the entrance and exit of characters of stage. This point of view reflects his deep affiliation with theatre.
Shakespeare says that each human being performs seven parts in this small drama on the stage of the world. He makes his entry as a baby who is fully dependent upon others. This stage ends when the infant grows into a school child.
Shakespeare describes him as a boy having a face fresh like morning, with his bag hanging on his side, walking appropriately to school. In the beginning he does not like going to school but gradually his thinking changes. When time passes onwards the schoolboy transformed into a youngster. He is not an adult yet and due to lack of maturity, he indulges in infatuations.
The young man through years of experience emerges as a brave soldier. His desires and ambitions give a more aggressive look. He has become hasty and fights over minor issues. He wants to become famous at all costs. The age of bravery soon passes away by giving way to a mature and sensible phase when he plays the role of a judge. He has cold, unemotional eyes and wears a beard of formal cut. He gives lectures to people and delivers wise sayings.
The stage also comes to an end and the sixth age arrives. The wise judge is an old man now. His legs are thin and body has shrunk and his strong voice changes into a squeaking voice. The seventh and the last stage of a man’s life is the time of exit. He is once again dependent upon others as he was in infancy. Shakespeare has called this age second childhood.
Shakespeare has perfectly described this truth in Seven Ages of Man that man is an actor, life is a drama and this world is a stage. Each person plays the roles assigned to him and tires to justify it.
“Our whole life is like a play.”
- Ben Johnson