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Quotes

Quote #1

DUKE SENIOR
Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy:
This wide and universal theatre
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in. (2.7.13)

If the Duke weren't such an upbeat guy, this might leave us a little worried. Even though the world does seem like one big "theater," it's a little depressing to think that our lives are nothing more than a "woeful pageant." It seems like the Duke finds a bit of comfort knowing that human suffering is a universal experience and that there's always someone else in the world with a tougher life than ours.

P.S. Didn't we hear something similar from Macbeth just after he learned that his beloved wife had died? We smell an essay topic!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
(Macbeth, 5.5.2)

Quote #2

JAQUES
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. (2.7.9)

Hmm.  Didn't the Duke just finish saying something very similar?  (See passage above.)  Although we've heard this before, Jaques makes a valid point – the world is often like a stage and Shakespeare likes to remind us of the theatrical nature of life.  Here, Shakespeare also reminds us that we are in fact watching a play, which involves a bunch of actors "with their exits and their entrances."  Check out "Symbolism" if you want to know more about this speech.

Quote #3

JAQUES
O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear. (2.7.1)

Touchstone takes a lot of flak for being a licensed fool.  Here, Jaques is mocking Touchstone's status as a "licensed fool" who wears a "motley" (a rainbow colored coat that signified his status as a court fool).  At the same time, however, fools were highly respected performers – their clowning is not only entertaining but it's also highly witty.  Touchstone, as we know, is a great entertainer and he's also one of the smartest characters in the play.  (Second, perhaps, to our girl Rosalind.)

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