| Quote #1
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
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
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.)