THE SEVEN AGES OF MAN
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
The above poetic lines have been adopted from the classical poem “The Seven Ages of Man”, which is actually an extract from Shakespeare’s delightful comedy “As You Like It”.
This master piece of poetry is a moral commentary on life written in an exceptionally exclusive style which is the attribute of Shakespeare.
The poem contains an amusing and classical description on human nature and behaviour which reflects Shakespeare’s deep awareness of human psychology. The poet makes a comparison between world & stage. He says that world is like a stage, life is like acting & men and women are like actors. He classifies man’s life into seven different ages.
And all the men and women merely players ———– His act being seven ages. At first the infant.
In the opinion of the poet man’s life on earth is like a big drama, in which men and women play their parts before their death. Man has to play many parts before their death Man has to play many parts and his life has been divided into seven parts.
This world is just like a stage of a theatre. All persons being players are given different roles. Every individual plays a definite role during his life, which normally consists of seven parts or acts.
In order to make his meaning clear, he makes a comparison of life with the stage. The first stage of a man is being an infant i.e. when he enters in this world and makes his exist in this stage of world as a baby.
Mewling and puking in the nurse’arms ——— Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Shakespeare says that each human being performs seven parts in this small drama on the stage of the world. He makes his entry as a baby who is fully dependent upon others. This stage ends when the infant grows into a school child.
Shakespeare describes him as a boy having a face fresh like morning, with his bag hanging on his side, walking appropriately to school. In the beginning he does not like going to school but gradually his thinking changes. When time passes onwards the schoolboy transformed into a youngster. He is not an adult yet and due to lack of maturity, he indulges in infatuations.
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow; then a soldier…………. Even in the cannon’s mouth; and then, the justice,
In the above poetic lines, William Shakespeare, describes the fourth stage of man’s life. At this stage of his life, man’s strength and courage is at zenith. He enjoys energetic life with a fearfully quick-tempered nature. He is not contended at what he has and always looks what other have. Since he is quite emotional and warm blooded that is why quarrels are parts of his normal daily life.
He is always be seeker of worldly name and fame, which is short lived, and transient like a bubble which disappears within no time from its appearance. His thrust for getting honour and esteem never quenches and strives his best to gain status. Putting his life at stake for getting something noteable is quite easy for him.
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d………And so he plays his part
In the above lines, William Shakespeare describes the fifth stage of man’s life which he calls middle age or “judge”. In fair round belly with good tasty food, with eyes penetrating and beard of formal cut, full of wise saws and modern instances, man acts his fifth part as a judge. His body develops as he gets matured. Practically, his is a blend of custom, morality, religion, and education. The visible authority can be well located in him. Here he acts like the ruler, or chief; the ultimate authorities to pass a judgment on any aspects of life.
The sixth age shifts, into the lean………………… turning again toward childish treble. pipes
In the above lines William Shakespeare narrates the exact events that take place in the sixth stage of human life which is its autumnal decadence. The picturesque setting of man is gradually going thin in his stature and can no longer fit into his clothes. The man grows older and becomes weak. His authority grows less and his voice trembles as he talks.
That ends strange eventful history…………Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste and everything.
The poet in the above lines narrates the seventh and the tragic end of man’s life which starting from a newborn and passing through various different stages finally reaches at its last stage. This age of man’s life is more or less same as that of the second phase of man’s life because at this stage man again behaves like a child. He disobeys what he is asked to do, he cries for what he is not supposed to have or take and he looks for short cuts what might benefit him to accomplish his desires.
At the same time, this stage is the worst of the all stages as man loses all of his senses and strength and his life truly becomes dependant on others. His memory becomes weaken and five senses start malfunctioning and finally he departs from the world leaving behind a story full of events.
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