Explain the opening phrase "All the world`s stage; And all the men and women merely players" in the poem "The Seven stages of a man"."The seven stages of a man" by William Shakespeare

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To me, what Shakespeare is saying in this very famous line is that we all are not that important and we are not permanent features of the world.  This makes sense given what the poem is about.  The poem is talking about how people go through various stages of life and eventually become nothing.

By saying that we are all just actors, Shakespeare is emphasizing that we ourselves change over time, playing first one role and then another.

So the major idea here is that, even though we think we are important and permanent, we are not.

anthonda49 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Life is like a drama enacted on a stage. It is not real except to those directly involved. Mostly an "audience" watches us play out our lives interacting with family, co-workers, and friends. When our "run" is done, we die and the play ends. People are like actors in that they assume a persona to fit with each person we meet. We certainly don't act the same way with a lover as we do with our boss (at least I hope not!). Life is full of plot complications that grow to a natural (or unnatural in the case of crime) end.

dnguha | Student

According to Shakespeare, "all the world is a stage" where all the men and women perform their own acts. Every person is only a mere player, enacting the vested roles, as imposed by the Supreme Director. The stage has its entrance( birth) and exit( death).

jannats-singh | Student
'All the worlds a stage, and all the men and women merely players' : Here, the poet likens a mans' life to that of a play set up in theater. He says that each mans' finite life is nothing but an act, and as the man progresses in his life, the scenes and acts each shift accordingly.