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All The World Is A Stage Essay Help

Competitive Exams Essay: …All The World's A Stage And All The Men And Women Merely Players

These lines were spoken by a character in the Shakespeare's play ‘As you like it’ What do these lines suggest? Are they symbolic of the author's or the character's abject surrender to fate and nature's laws or they represent his renunciation of the worldly pleasures and material gains as being momentary and unreal. Whatever it may be, it will be really interesting to try to understand it further.

‘All the world's a stage’ symbolizes the world being like a stage on which plays are performed. Just as different scenes are enacted on the stage, different events and incidents happen in the world. As scenes change on the stage during a play, in a similar way, times change in the world. Plays are performed by players on the stage, events and incidents occur with men and women in the world. Men and Women are as much a part of an event or an incident as actors are of a play. They perform their role in their respective, domains the world and the stage respectively. As role ends, the actor leaves the stage, similarly as man's work in the world ends, he leaves it. So the correlation that Shakespeare has tried to highlight appears quite reasonable.

However, the important part of the statement is the word ‘merely’ Actors at that time were not like stars of today. They obeyed their director and performed as he directed. They could not change their roles, modify it or perform it differently from what the director or the writer desired. Hence, the word ‘merely’ Here, Shakespeare by calling ‘men and women merely actors’ has tried to emphasize their state of helplessness and submission. Here the authority is the God. He has complete control over the human beings and makes them do things as he wishes. Man is bound by his fate. His role is pre-assigned and he cannot change it. This to some, may sound like defeatism. But to some extent, we are indeed bound.

To elaborate it further, let us take the example of birth and death. Birth is the biggest accident that happens in one's life. Accident may sound harsh but birth just happens. Else how can we explain two infants born at the same time, one of who has silver soon in mouth and other may have just rags to cover his body? What makes them different? Then how can two new born have such a different life when neither of them has performed any action. Some explain it in terms of our previous birth and some call it pure fate. Whatever it may be, certainly it is beyond our control. Similar is the case of death. Why so many very talented people like Ramanujam, Vivekananda etc. Died so early when they had so much to do and why Hitler and Stalin lived so long? We cannot deny that for most of us, the course of our life is determined by the family we are born in, the place we are born in, the upbringing and many other beyond our control.

Though, one's upbringing plays a major role in determining one's future, the situation is not so helpless. If a man is determined enough, has the guts and courage to face adversities, he can do wonders by his hard work. Even in a play, there are different actors. Not all of them perform equally. Even, the same role can be done by two different actors very differently. Some actors stand out because of their performance and become famous all over. Same is the case in this world that a few people make their mark in different fields of activity. They become great leaders, academicians, doctors, artists etc. There are people who have shown in adversities and rises from the bottom because they faced circumstances head on:

However, this is only one aspect of the statement. It also hides another very deep and very relevant thought. It is that world is too big a place for anybody to consider himself its master. All the great kings, generals, leaders had to leave one day. The world did not stop them. They played their role and moved away to let others play theirs. We are not immortal, the world is. Different actors play different roles in a play. Some are important ones and some are not-so-important ones, but no one can say that play is because of him. Everyone has to bow to the Almighty, a great and unknown power which is all encompassing and all knowing. We should keep away from attachment, lust, greed etc. Because we are in this world only till our role demands it. This was the philosophy that ancient Indians propounded and that all religions have commanded.

All this does not mean that one should leave everything to him. An actor has to give his best to the role he performs. Similarly all of us must do our duty with devotion and honesty. A play is successful only when each one of the actors performs well. World will progress when each one of us contributes his best to it. A director can promote an actor; God can change man's life. ‘World being as stage’ doesn't mean that we are puppets but that we are actors. We have to shun not hard work but our negative traits like attachment, greed and lust. A well performed role howsoever small is well appreciated by the audience. Similarly, a well lived life becomes a lesson for others to follow. One gets praise, love, respect and fame if he does what is assigned to him with devotion and honesty howsoever small or as it may appear.

This article is about the Shakespeare monologue. For the live album by Rush, see All the World's a Stage (album). For the television episode, see All the World's a Stage (Ugly Betty).

"All the world's a stage" is the phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare's As You Like It, spoken by the melancholy Jaques in Act II Scene VII. The speech compares the world to a stage and life to a play, and catalogues the seven stages of a man's life, sometimes referred to as the seven ages of man:[2]infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, Pantalone and old age, facing imminent death. It is one of Shakespeare's most frequently quoted passages.


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 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.


World as a stage[edit]

The comparison of the world to a stage and people to actors long predated Shakespeare. Richard Edwardes's play Damon and Pythias, written in the year Shakespeare was born, contains the lines, "Pythagoras said that this world was like a stage / Whereon many play their parts; the lookers-on, the sage".[3] When it was founded in 1599 Shakespeare's own theatre, The Globe, may have used the motto Totus mundus agit histrionem (All the world plays the actor), the Latin text of which is derived from a 12th-century treatise.[4] Ultimately the words derive from quod fere totus mundus exercet histrionem (because almost the whole world are actors) attributed to Petronius, a phrase which had wide circulation in England at the time.

In his own earlier work, The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare also had one of his main characters, Antonio, comparing the world to a stage:

I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;
A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.

— Act I, Scene I

In his work The Praise of Folly, first printed in 1511, Renaissance humanist Erasmus asks, "For what else is the life of man but a kind of play in which men in various costumes perform until the director motions them off the stage."[5]

Ages of man[edit]

Likewise the division of human life into a series of ages was a commonplace of art and literature, which Shakespeare would have expected his audiences to recognize. The number of ages varied: three and four being the most common among ancient writers such as Aristotle. The concept of seven ages derives from medieval philosophy, which constructed groups of seven, as in the seven deadly sins, for theological reasons. The seven ages model dates from the 12th century.[6] King Henry V had a tapestry illustrating the seven ages of man.[7]

According to T. W. Baldwin, Shakespeare's version of the concept of the ages of man is based primarily upon Palingenius' book Zodiacus Vitae, a school text he would have studied at the Stratford Grammar School, which also enumerates stages of human life. He also takes elements from Ovid and other sources known to him.[8]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  1. ^William Shakespeare (1623). Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies. London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount. p. 194. OCLC 606515358. 
  2. ^Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man. By William Shakespeare. Van Voorst, 1848. (Also, L. Booth and S. Ayling, 1864 Version.)
  3. ^Joseph Quincy Adams, Chief Pre-Shakespearean Dramas: A Selection of Plays Illustrating the History of the English Drama from Its Origin down to Shakespeare, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston; New York, 1924, p. 579.
  4. ^Marjorie B. Garber (2008). Profiling Shakespeare. Routledge. p. 292. 
  5. ^John Masters (1956). The Essential Erasmus. The New American Library. p. 119. 
  6. ^J. A. Burrow (1986). The Ages of Man: A Study in Medieval Writing and Thought. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  7. ^PROME, 1423 October, item 31, entries 757–797, quoted in Ian Mortimer, 1415 – Henry V's Year of Glory, p. 45, footnote 2.
  8. ^Thomas Whitfield Baldwin (1944). William Shakspere's Small Latine and Lesse Greeke. 1. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press. pp. 652–673. 

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