In the poem “The Seven Ages” the poet compares the life to drama ,in which a person play many parts as he or she progresses though. He was beautiful captured the cycle of human life – birth, development, decay and death Shakespeare considers the world a stage and men and women actors on the stage of life. From infancy to senility (extreme old age) , a person undergoes many varied experiences. His act may be divided into seven ages. From ‘mewling (crying) and puking (vomiting) in his nurse’s arms’, he grows into a whining boy unwilling to go to school and them a fine young man full of passion. From this stage he matures into a man of the world and shoulders the responsibilities accordingly. His physical appearance also gets transformed. He develops a paunch and sports a beard or a moustache. From middle age, he finally withers into old age with shriveled skin, weak eyes and feeble memory. The last stage i.e. senility marks the beginning of second childhood – without taste, interest or activity i.e. he loses his teeth, his vision and his hearing.
Metaphor : ‘all the world’s a stage’, ’all the man and women merely players’, ‘the bubble reputation’, ‘childish treble’.
Simile : ‘creeping like snail’, ‘sighing like furnace’, ‘bearded like the pard’.
Imagery : the infant ‘mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms’.
the whining schoolboy ‘creeping like snail / Unwilling to school’
the solider, ‘full of strange oaths’, jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel’.
the lover sighing like furnace, ‘with a woeful ballad; Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
the justice – ‘fair round belly with good capon lined with eyes severe and beard of formal cut’
old man – ‘lean and slippered pantaloon with spectacles on nose and pouch on side’.
TEXTUAL COMPREHENSION :
Read the extracts given below and answer the question that follow each :
And all mean and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances:
And one man in his time play many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
- Why does the poet say ‘all the men and women merely players’?
- In what way is the world like a stage ?
- What does the poet mean by ‘exits’ and entrances’?
Ans .(i) The man and women are actors on the stage of life because no one live forever butplays his or her part and departs.
(ii) life in this world is temporary like the actor’s roles on the stage. Though theworld carries on, human beings are born; they live their lives and die just as the actors appear on the stage, play their parts and leave the stage.
(iii) The poet means death and birth respectively by ‘exits’ and ‘entrances’.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwilling to school.
- Why does the schoolboy have a ‘shining morning face’?
- Write down words that indicate the boy is not willing to go to school.
- Do you think the poet is right in making generalization about schoolboys?
How? How not?
Ans . (i) The child has had a bath and is clean early in the morning in preparation for Going to school.
(ii) The words are ‘whining’ ,’creeping’ ‘unwillingly’.
(iii) the poet is right in making his generalization because schoolboys usually fear Going to school.
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the canon’s mouth.
- Who is the person described in the above lines? Which of the seven stages does he come at?
- What traits characterize this stage?
- Why is reputation like a bubble?
- Which poetic device is employed by the poet in these line?
Ans .(i) Soldier is described in the above lines. He comes at the fourth stage.
(ii) The Soldier is sensitive about his honour and is always ready to defend it. He Is short-tempered and ambitious. He is willing to even risk his life for his reputation.
(iii) It is because reputation is as short-lived as a bubble.
(iv) The poetic device used is metaphor – The reputation is likened to a bubble.
And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes sever and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modem instances;
And so he plays his part.
- How does the justice look ? why ?
- What is his attitude towards people around him ?
- How is his beard different from that of the soldier ?
(i) The justice is fat. He is fattened by the good food that he eats.
(ii)He is authoritative and stern. He offers advice and quotes proverbs and anecdotes to prove his words.
(iii) The soldier’s beard was Shaggy like a leopard’s but the justice has a well- Trimmed beard.
Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
- Where is this scene being enacted ?
- Why does The poet call life ‘strange eventful history’?
- Describe the stage that precedes this last stage.
- Describe how the man looks like in the last scene of life.
Ans .(i) This scene is being enacted on the stage of life.
(ii) Life has seven stages, each different from the other. By the time man reaches this last stage, he has played all the other roles and has hence led a very eventful life.
(iii) The stage preceding this is of an extremely old man. In it, man has shrunk legs and childlike voice. He whistles and pipes when he speaks and looks funny.
(iv) In the last scene of life, he is like a child. He is forgetful. He has no teeth, no eyesight and no taste.
TEXTUAL QUESTIONS :
What according to the poet are the seven stages of life? What characteristice would you associate with each stage ?
Ans . According to Shakespeare, there are seven stages in a man’s life .These are:
Childhood – innocence, dependence on others, simplicity, playfulness, humility, moodiness
Studentship – unwilling to go to school, well-dressed, complaining, curious, inquisitive
Lover– self-conscious, moody, fashion-conscious ,sentimental, imaginative sighing deeply, fearless
Soldier – fearless, steel-hearted, duty-bound, dedicated, guards one’s honour, quick in quarrel, swearing, impulsive, quick-tempered.
Judge / Family man – wish, compromising, responsible, far-sighted, practical, controlled, mature ,protective, rational
Old age- spectacled, lean and thin, weak, worried Extreme old age-toothless, weak eyesight, poor taste, forgetful.
Finally he departs from this stage of life.
In old age man becomes funny. How does the poet describe man in this stage of life ?
Ans. Man looks funny like a joker in his sixth and seventh stages of life. He is now old. He wears the clothes of his youthful days. He is very weak in health. These clothes are loose on his body because these belong to his youth when he was well-built. Then he wears spectacles on his nose. His loose skin hangs on his sides. His legs are like thin sticks. He is without teeth. He babbles like a baby when he speaks. He pipes and whistles in his sound when he speaks. Clearly, with such an appearance he look like a joker in these last two stages of life.