The Seven Ages of Man

 "All the world's a stage" monologue.

“All the World’s a Stage:” the Seven Ages of Man monologue from As You Like It by William Shakespeare

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 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.

From Act II, Scene VII.

Here are two performances of the Seven Ages of Man monologue, also known as “All the World’s a Stage.” The first video presents a beautifully nuanced recitation of the monologue by Morgan Freeman, and the second video offers a fully dramatized version by Richard Pasco. Listen to both, and see how they compare, and which one feels most powerful to you.

“The Seven Ages of Man” with Morgan Freeman

“All the World’s a Stage” with Richard Pasco

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. His known works include about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses. His plays continue to be performed more often than the work of any other playwright.

At Google’s Art Project, you can see a series of seven paintings by Robert Smirke. Each of the seven ages of man is depicted in a separate painting in contrast to the painting (at top of post) by William Mulready, which depicts all seven ages of man in a single scene.

The “All the World’s a Stage” monologue has been set to music by Huub de Lange, and the score is available for download in ChoralWiki.

We have other Shakespeare resources on the site, and welcome suggestions for additions.

The complete works of Shakespeare fit into a single volume, and it’s a book that should be in every home. Along with the Bible, it would be one of the three books I would want if shipwrecked on a deserted island. This is just one of the editions that has good notes and is easy to navigate.


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