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Poem 09 The Seven Ages of Man


1.What is the main idea of the poem “The Seven Ages of Man”?

Ans)The poem “The Seven Ages of Man” gives an idea that human life is temporary and everyone comes here for a specified period. In this sense, the world is like a stage and human beings are actors, they play their role in seven different stages until the period of their life ends.

2.Explain William Shakespeare’s idea that “All the world’s a stage”?
"All the world's a stage" is the phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare's 'As You Like It', spoken by melancholy Jacques in Act II Scene vii. The speech compares the world to a stage and life to a play. Like the stage in the theatre, life too has its entrances and exits in the form of birth and death. Thus a man plays his role through the seven ages of life. The first role is that of an infant. He cries and vomits in the hands of his nurse. In the second stage, man plays the role of a little child. He carries a small schoolbag with him and has a shiny face, walking as slowly as possible because of his dislike of school. In the third stage of life, man plays the role of a lover. He falls in love passionately and sings a sad ballad about love, praising the beauty of his lover’s eyebrows. In the fourth stage of life, man plays the role of a soldier. He is full of strange oaths, bearded, and strives for honor, recognition and reputation, even in a cannon’s mouth. In the fifth stage of life, man plays the role of a justice. He is well fed and has a fat belly. He is full of wise sayings. He uses his experience, wisdom and knowledge in the dispensation of justice. In the sixth stage of life, man becomes weak and fragile. He wears baggy clothes and his deep manly voice becomes high-pitched and whistles. Man’s last stage is that of extreme old age. This stage is compared to second childhood. He loses control over his senses and becomes dependent on others just like a child. He becomes a victim of forgetfulness and loses his teeth, eyesight, hearing, etc. and then, he passes away.

What is the first stage of human life according to the poem “The Seven Ages of Man”?

Ans)The first stage of human life starts when one comes to this world by his birth as an infant. He is too weak and dependent therefore, he cries and vomits in mother’s or nurse’s arms.

4.What is the second stage of human life, how does one act in this stage for acquiring education?

Ans)The second stage of human life is childhood. In this stage, parents for their child do a management in order to provide education. In this stage, a child becomes hesitant for going to an educational institution in the beginning. He remains unwilling but goes to school with shining morning face and his school bag.

5.What is the third stage of human life? Why does a lover sigh like a furnace according to the poem “The Seven Ages of Man”?

Ans)The third stage of human life starts when one appears as a lover. Every person passes the period of childhood by learning knowledge from formal and informal institution. He also passes through many physical and psychological changes and enters in adult age. One feels attraction towards the opposite sex, therefore falls in love with someone. As a lover, when the hearts felt desires of a person do not come true, he becomes depressed. In this situation, one becomes inclined to sigh like a furnace. Under the influence of deep grief, he starts composing sad songs.

6.What is the fourth stage of human life according to the poem “The Seven Ages of Man”?

Ans)According to Shakespeare, the fourth stage of man on the stage of the world is his soldier life. He takes oath to be loyal to his country. He takes great care of his honour and is always ready to fight. A beard grows on his face like a leopard. In addition to, he looks after his good fame all the time.

7.What is the fifth stage of human life according to the poem “The Seven Ages of Man”?

Ans)According to Shakespeare, a man on the stage of the world enters his fifth stage when he becomes justice. He becomes very fat due to over eating. His eyes become severe and his mind is full of great examples, so he makes his decisions based on his wisdom and intelligence.

Describe the appearance of man in the sixth stage according to the poem “The Seven Ages of Man”?

Ans)The sixth stage of human life is the period of early aging. In this stage, the health of a person starts falling gradually and he becomes weak and thin. By this time, he becomes careless for his physical appearance and well dressing; he appears just like a joker because he always places the spectacles on his nose carelessly and keeps small bags with him. The long stockings, which he used to wear during his youth, now are useless for him because his legs are so thin for the use of these preserved stockings. He wears loose and of poor quality pants. His loud and fearful voice is also changed into the feeble voice of a child, thus in this stage a person looks like a clown.

9.Why does Shakespeare call the last age of human life as a second childishness?

“An old man is twice a child” (Shakespeare)

Ans)The seven stage of human life is the last age. It is the period of very old age and the end of the eventful history of a man’s life. William Shakespeare calls the seventh stage of human life as the second childishness. In this period, he lives with lack of sensation and forgetfulness. He has no teeth, his eyesight becomes weak and he feels no taste in eating food. By this time, he is unable to enjoy the life because of his physical weakness. This period is actually a closing chapter of a person’s life and he should be ready to go into the new world.

“The paths of glory lead to the grave ” (Thomas Gray)

10.What viewpoint does Shakespeare hold about human behavior and the world in the poem “Seven Ages of Man”?

Ans)Shakespeare has assumed a touch of humor and pleasant satire in the description of human nature and behavior. He calls the world a stage or playhouse to point out the false glamour of this house of mortals and vanity of human character. He compares people with players or actors, who appear on the stage of the world, play their roles and leave the stage forever. Appearance of a man on the stage of the world mean birth and departure from here denotes his death. From the age of infancy to the extreme old age, a man plays seven different roles in his life. In other words, the entire life span of a man can be divided into seven phases.


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