"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.
"All the world's a stage" is the phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare's As You Like It. The speech compares the world to a stage and life to a play, catalogueing the seven stages of a man's life, sometimes referred to as the seven ages of man: 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.
The Seven Ages
In this stage the man is born as a helpless baby and knows little but waiting as a man in embryo to spring out.
Here, he begins his schooling; the charms of helpless innocence cease. It is in that stage of life that he begins to go to school. He is unwilling to leave the protected environment of his home as he is still not confident enough to exercise his own discretion.
The lover is depicted as a young man composing his love poems, shown beneath two pictures of Cupid, the god of love and on the left, Romeo-Juliet balcony scene. In this stage he is always maudlin, expressing his love in a fatuous manner. He makes himself ridiculous in trying to express his feelings.
Here, he is hot-blooded with a high degree of self-respect. He looks forward to gaining a reputation, even if it costs him his life. He is inflamed with the love of war and, like a leopard, he charges. He is very easily aroused and is hot headed. He is always working towards making a reputation for himself, however short-lived it may be, even at the cost of foolish risks.
In this stage he thinks he has acquired wisdom through the many experiences he has had in life, and is likely to impart it. He has reached a stage where he has gained prosperity and social status. He becomes vain and begins to enjoy the finer things of life and he attains a socially accepted state and expounds the wisdom he has gained in his life.
He is a shell of his former self — physically and mentally. He begins to become the butt of others' jokes. He loses his firmness and assertiveness, and shrinks in stature and personality and tries to shrink himself into a shell of his worries and is indifferent to his physical appearance and apparel, just as he was in his youth.
The Old Age
In this stage he is dependent on others for care and unable to interact with the world, he experiences "second innocence, and mere oblivion. this stage is also known as second stage."
~ The Monologue ~
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 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 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.
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin