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This is a speech by Jacques in William Shakespeare's pastoral comedy, 'As You Like it'. The excerpt is often read as an independent poem titled "Seven Ages of Man".
The title is straightforward. It describes the central theme of the poem. The poem is about the entire span of human life from birth to death in terms of a developmental process where Shakespeare locates seven stages of development. He sees them as seven roles in a theatrical performance. Throughout the poem, he uses the dramatic metaphor to talk about human life as a stage and all human beings as mere players, who act out different roles in course of the passage of time.
First, we have the puking infant, a complete dependent. Then the unwilling school going boy. Next enters the sad lover, romanticizing failure in love and sighing like furnace. At the next stage, we have the oath-taking soldier, ready for the battle of life, seeking momentary glory at the cost of his own life. Up next is the well-fed middle aged man, judgmental in nature, full of maxims.The penultimate stage is that of old age, spent in nostalgia and contemplation with the last being a cyclic return to the first "second childishness" with an end in the 'sans' of nothingness--death.
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