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All the world's a stage Introduction

I'm Jaques. I don't really like anything or anyone. My hobbies include sitting around depressed and getting mad at people who are happy. And you know what I think? This, that's what:

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. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything (2.7.140-167).

Who Said It and Where

Shmoopers, be on the alert. This is one of the most famous quotes in Shakespeare. We hear it all the time, everywhere, often in terrible impressions of a British accents. But do we actually know what it means?

This quote comes to us from As You Like It. More specifically, it's from a scene in which a character called Jaques is talking to some pals he comes across in the forest about the meaning of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Or something like that.

Before we even get to the quote itself, though, we should tell you that Jaques is a pretty depressing guy. If the Forest of Arden had an Eeyore, he'd be it. But he doesn't just stop at the whole "thanks for noticing me" routine. Oh no. He purposely seeks out experiences that are depressing, just so he can mope at the top of his lungs. And just about everything depresses this guy. We're not kidding.

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