Why is the "all the world's a stage" passage in Act 3, Scene 7 of Shakespeare's As You Like It written in blank verse?

Expert Answers

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

It would actually be more unusual to find a lengthy speech in one of William Shakespeare’s plays that was not written in blank verse. Unrhymed iambic pentameter, also known as blank verse, is the standard meter and length that the playwright uses throughout his plays. An “iamb” (from the Greek) is one unit of meter, consisting of one unstressed and one stressed syllable. The number of metric units in a line is referred to with a Greek prefix; “iambic pentameter” is five units, while “hexameter” would be six.

It is worth noting, however, that Jacques’s monologue , although predominantly in iambic pentameter, sometimes deviates significantly. This is most notable in the first line, which starts with a stressed “all,” has only three stressed and two unstressed syllables; it is trimeter rather than pentameter. Starting with the stressed word is a stronger opening, and the shorter line length can alert the audience that the following lines will be something other than ordinary...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 577 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 7, 2019