1.4 All the World’s a Stage
(26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616)
William Shakespeare was an English poet & playwright.
He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English
language, and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.
All the world’s a stage
The words “All the world’s a stage” are actually taken from William Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It”.
• The poem’s theme is that man is the ultimate loser in the game of life.
• The poem begins with life being compared to a huge stage where all of men and women are only actors.
• Each person has an entry into the world at birth and exits it at death.
• According to Shakespeare, every man plays seven acts during his life time.
Analysis of the Poem
The poem’s theme is that man is the ultimate loser in the game of life. He says “all the world’s a stage and “all the men and women merely its players”. Every player plays seven roles during his life.
The first stage is that of an infant when he is helpless in his mother’s arms. He merely pukes in the
In the second role, he is a child who goes “creeping like a snail unwillingly to school”. He is innocent. He is not willing to learn. He wants freedom. For learning, he must lose his childish liberty. We may notice that man keeps on losing one quality and blessing while qualifying for another one.
The third stage brings before us the lover who sings woeful ballads for his beloved. In the youthful age when man is full of energy and might, he does everything to please his beloved. Even this shift of
life, filled with merrymaking and joyous songs, passes so quickly as well.
Soldier, the fourth stage arrives swiftly; here man seeks fame though it is temporary and short lived. He endangers his life for it. It alludes how man goes every extreme for temporary success. Because success is always temporary.
Fifth role is of a middle-aged man. He has round belly. He cites modern instances.
In sixth age, man becomes very weak. He keeps pouch with him. He wears warm hoses. Man’s shank(ankle) has shrunk. “His big manly voice is turning again towards childish treble”. His voice is
not clear due to loss of teeth.
In the last stage, the condition of man becomes very miserable. Now he has grown very old and weak. He has no relations. He has lost all. He is: “sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste and sans everything.”
He has lost all his relations. At this stage, man feels that life is nothing except sheer loss for man though he may boast of the success and achievements he has got in his past life.
Shakespeare wishes to make us realise that the short life we spend in this world is not worth it if we have a close observation of it. Life is nothing more than a shadow.
Central Idea of the Poem
The central theme of the poem is that the cycle of life from birth to death is inescapable and we should play the roles assigned to us at various stages just like professional actors.
Shakespeare compares the world to a stage on which the drama of life is carried out by men at various stages in life, who are actors in the drama. They enter and start acting at birth, the first stage, they finish acting at death, the seventh stage, and exit the stage. In between, they go through the five stages of childhood, youth, working age, maturity and retirement.
1.4 All the World’s a Stage Questions & Answers
1. What do ‘exits’ and ‘entrances’ refer to?
Ans: ‘Entrances’ refer to birth and ‘exit’ to death.
2. Why is reputation like a bubble?
Ans: Reputation is like a bubble because one does useless things for one’s reputation, which can burst like a bubble in an instant.
3. What is the major difference noticed in the 5th & 6th stage of life?
Ans: The 5th stage of life is that of a mature middle-aged man with a round belly. He is full of wise sayings and give examples. The 6th stage of life is that of old age with thin legs and loose pants. He has become childish and shrill.
There is no rhyme scheme in this poem.
The tone of this poem is somber (serious). It shows how in the end we all fall back into almost the same state we were in as an infant.
It conveys the message that ultimately, we end up just as were to be begin with, helpless. There is no permanent thing in the world, it is already part of the human cycle that a man lives from an infant and dies as a corpse. We should accept the fact that all of us die and the truth behind the human living cycle.
• creeping like a snail
• soldier… bearded like the pard
• All the world’s a stage.
• They have their exits and their entrances.
• And then the wining schoolboy.
• Sighing like a furnace.
• And one man in his time plays many parts
• Creeping like snail, unwillingly to school.
• With a woeful ballad.
• Into the lean and slippered pantaloon.
Read the words in given clouds.
Match them with what they signify.
• Roles Played by human beings
• Story of Life
2. Read the poem carefully and complete the following table
3. Lover (Lover)
4. Youth (Soldier)
5. Adult man
6. Middle aged man
7. Old man
2] crying and puking
2] whining, creeping to school unwillingly
2] sighing, singing sad ballads
1] jealous in honour, ambitious
2] quarrelling, brave
1] fat, serious and wise
2] giving advice
1] thin and shrunken
2] talkative in a shrill-voice
1] senile, child like
2] oblivious to his surrounding
4. Pick out the lines that contain imagery of the following people
01. School boy (2 stage):
The whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face,
creeping like a snail unwillingly to school.
02. Soldier (4th stage):
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard.
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel.
03. Judge (5th stage):
His youthful hose, well-saved, a world too wide.
For his shrunk shank.
04. Senior citizen (6th stage):
In fair round belly with good capon lined
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut.
6. Think and write on your own.
01 What is the theme/central idea of this poem?
Ans: The theme/central idea of this poem is the cycle of life. It tells that life begins with a stage of an infant, helpless and ends with the same way.
02 Which two stages of man, described by Shakespeare sound humorous?
Ans: The second stage (the school boy) and third stage (lover) are humorous.
03. The last (7th) stage of life sounds very sad and miserable. How can you make old age also cheerful and happy?
Ans: The last stage (very old age) is very sad and miserable. We can make it cheerful and happy by keeping good relations with our kith and kin.
7 A. Pick out Metaphorical comparison for the following:
• birth and death:
• school boy:
• the lover’s sigh:
• spotted leopard:
• last stage (old age):
Entrances & Exits
Critical Appreciation of the Poem
It means to evaluate and analyse a poem in order to have its better understanding.
Tips for writing a Critical Appreciation of a Poem:
(Write it in the following way and in paragraphs.)
– Name of the poem and poet. 1 Mark
(Write in short about the poet and poem)
– Point out the poem’s rhyme scheme.
– The figures of speech & tone of the poem.
– Write Central Idea of the poem in brief (around 4-6 sentences)
– Conclude the appreciation of the poem with the message it conveys.
(You can write why do you like the poem)
“All the world’s a stage” is written by William Shakespeare. It is an excerpt from his play “As You Like It”. It is also popularly known as ‘The Seven Ages of Man’. He has compared the stages in the life of man to roles an actor would play on the theatre stage. There is no rhyme scheme but the poem is in iambic pentameter. Some significant figures of speech like Simile, Metaphor, and Personification are used in the poem.
The poem’s theme is that man is the ultimate loser in the game of life. He says “all the world’s a stage and “all the men and women merely its players”. Every player plays seven roles during his life. The first stage is that of an infant when he is a helpless child in his mother’s arms. In the second role, he is a child who goes “creeping
like a snail unwillingly to school”. The third stage brings before us the lover who sings woeful ballads for his beloved. In the youthful age when man is full of energy and might.
Soldier, the fourth stage arrives swiftly; here man seeks fame though it is temporary and short lived. Fifth role is of a middle-aged man. He has round belly. He cites modern instances. In sixth age, man becomes very weak. In the last stage, the condition of man
becomes very miserable. Now he has grown very old and weak. He has no relations. He has lost all. Shakespeare wishes to make us realize that the short life we spend in this world is not worth it if we have a close observation of it. Life is nothing more than a
shadow. So, spend it bravely and eagerly. Be not a passer-by.
I like the poem, as it gives a message to all men and women how to live life fullest and make the most of what we have. The poem describes living life by accepting what is & leaving it with grace and dignity is the best way to play our part.