All the World's a Stage Examples

All the World's a Stage

This phrase "all the world's a stage" comes from William Shakespeare's play As You Like It. In the play, Jacques gives a speech in which he compares the stages of human life to acts played out on a stage. Here is the full text of his speech from Act II, Scene 7 of As You Like It:

Examples of All the World's a Stage:

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;
And then the whining school-boy, 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 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 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.

Jacques sees the course of human life, particularly a man's life, played out in seven acts: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, "slipper'd pantaloon" (or old man), and "second childishness." In each of these stages of life, the man has a different part, or role, to play. What is ironic is how life goes from infancy to make a full circle back to childishness at the end-as a very elderly man doesn't have teeth, cannot see, cannot taste . . . and is essentially an infant again.

This line, "all the world's a stage," has been used over and over in other literary works and everyday language. In general, when it is used, it means what it did when the character Jacques first spoke the lines. That all of humanity is playing our part each day as we encounter each other on the "world's stage."

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