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What does Shakespeare's famous "All The World's A Stage" quote mean, from...

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rentfanatic33 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 23, 2008 at 4:33 AM via web

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What does Shakespeare's famous "All The World's A Stage" quote mean, from "As You Like It"?

That is the actual poem that I must recite to my honors English class tomorrow, and I need to know the meaning of it.

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 23, 2008 at 4:43 AM (Answer #1)

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Understanding the meaning of what you're reciting is a very good idea!  It's hard to get the meaning across to your audience if you don't understand what you're saying.

The original character who speaks the speech, Jacques, is VERY cynical about life, and he is talking about the seven stages of a person's life.  Most often, we only hear the first part of the speech as it is quoted endlessly by theater/acting/drama buffs (like myself - I have a t-shirt with those first 4 lines on it!).  But the rest of the speech is what really tells us what Jacques is feeling about life.

We start out as puking babies, go through all the necessary stages of life, then end up just like babies again as old people - "Sans (without) teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." (Act II, scene 7)

So re-think what you're saying in terms of explaining the stages of life to your audience.  It's not a sugary sweet speech - rather, it indicates a great deal of cynicism about the seven ages of man!  Good luck!

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted April 23, 2008 at 7:05 AM (Answer #2)

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An explanation of this quote can also be found in our free Shakespeare Quotes section.

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