What are two poetic devices in the poem beginning with "All the world's a stage" from As You Like It?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Shakespeare uses an extended metaphor in his poem commonly referred to as "The Seven Ages of Man" from As You Like It.  Beginning with "All the world's a stage," the speaker compares the world to a stage and people to actors.  Throughout the poem, he uses the theatrical metaphor of "to describe the development of man as he grows from child to adult.  According to Shakespeare, "one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages."

"The Seven Ages of Man" also employs the use of simile.  The "whining schoolboy" is "creeping like a snail unwillingly to school."  A simile is a comparison of two unlike objects using 'like' or 'as.'  This figurative language device effectively depicts the schoolboy's reluctance at going to class through his slow sluglike pace.  Shakespeare uses simile again in the next comparison with the lover "sighing like a furnace;" the comparison suggests multiple meanings.  The sound of the sigh and also the fiery heat of the furnace is similar to the passion felt by the lover. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team