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Shakespeare's famous and frequently quoted passage comes from the melancholy Jacques in Act II, Scene 7 of As You Like It. In the part in which Jacques characterizes the young man as a soldier who is full of his pride and arrogant about his manhood,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick to quarrel
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. (2.7.154-156)
In line 156, the cannon is personified since the opening out of which the cannon balls explode is given the human feature of a mouth. This figure of speech is effective because it suggests the bravado of the young man who would look down a cannon's mouth and not be afraid. In addition, it also suggests the foolhardiness of the soldier who rushes into battle ignoring the possibility that he may easily be killed. As in all the other stages that Jacques describes, man is powerless and worthy of ridicule.
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