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Seven Stages of Life March 13, 2012 12:00 AM | Tagged as As you like it, comedy, Jaques, Kevin Kline, melancholy, Seven Stages speech, Shakespeare
 The Seven Stages of Life

Hopefully some of you have now seen the movie version I recommended in the last post. I am sure you all went straight to your computer and put it first in your queue, rented or bought a copy upon my recommendation, right? 

Kevin Kline in the role of Jaques (As You Like It)

One of the most recognizable quotes is in the soliloquy of Jaques, the faithful and melancholy servant of Duke Senior, who is in the Forest of Ardenne with him. It is known as “The Seven Stages of Life” speech. He is more of a spectator in life and is very philosophical in his observation about life. At the conclusion of the play, instead of returning to court with Duke Senior he resolves to live out his life in a monastery. Most likely you have heard only the beginning of this speech, namely the first 3 lines but the entire thing is beautiful. Here is the speech:

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 schoolboy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, 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 slippered 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 towards 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. (2.7.139)

Nothing like being reminded that we come into the world wearing diapers and basically that is how we will leave it. This is a great speech!