This excerpt, found in Act II Scene VII, is part of Jacques’s famous “All the world’s a stage” speech. In this dialogue, Jacques is summarizing the various stages of life. Here in the sixth stage the average man is growing old. In this stage of life, an old man’s body, unlike the youthful man’s body that grows stronger and larger, is growing smaller and frail.
This dialogue by Jacques reveals his melancholy nature more than any other dialogue in the play. The dialogue suggests that even though all men grow strong and passionate with age, strength and passion, like all men, must eventually die. Likewise, this entire speech describes a cyclical nature to life. In other words man is born requiring someone to feed and take care of him, and by the end of his life, he has returned to a similar state by growing increasingly feeble in his old age.
Jacques’s thoughts concerning this “sixth age,” or old age, are clearly reinforced later in the scene when Orlando brings in his older servant Adam, who, due to old age and travel, is extremely weary. The scene then ends with Duke Senior welcoming the young man and his old, weary servant into his forest court.