All the World’s a Stage

Exercise: Question & Answers
Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.

a. Why does the poet compare the world with a stage?
→  The poet compares the world to a stage because he likens all people as players in a play. These players take on various roles on this stage (world) and eventually depart (die).

b. What is the first stage in a human’s life? In what sense can it be a troubling stage?
→  Infanthood is the first and earliest stage of human’s life. It’s a worrying time since the baby is completely reliant on his or her mother for everything. A baby may scream and puke at any moment in a mother’s arms.

c. Describe the second stage of life based on the poem.
→  School-going boy is in the second phase of life. He’s always whining and griping. His looks are as fresh as a new day when you see them. He drags his backpack and makes his way to school like a snail with reluctance.

d. Why is the last stage called second childhood?
→  A person loses all of his senses and acts like a child at the last stage, so it is known as second childhood.

e. In what sense are we the players on the world stage?
→  We are the players on the global stage, as we enter it when we are born, play different roles on stage like we live different lives along our lifespan and exit it when we die, much like players/performers on a stage.

Reference to the context

a. Explain the following lines:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players

→  In the provided words, the poet claims that life is similar to a theatre. Everyone is considered an actor who performs different roles in real life. Each actor enters the stage and performs his or her part in the play and exits at a time. Each person takes on various roles in the same way and leaves the stage that the actors on stage do.

b. Explain the following lines briefly with reference to the context.
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,

→  These lines are similar to the roles performed on stage by actors and individuals in their daily lives. We all have various roles to perform, much like the characters in a play. A person’s life is divided into seven stages, each with its own set of traits. In a play, each actor enters the stage, does his or her role, and then exits. We depart the stage of our life after we complete our roles. Similarly, we enter the world stage when we are born and exit it when we die.
Throughout his life, a man is bound to perform a variety of roles. The poet wants us to realise that life is like a stage for a play.

c. Read the given lines and answer the questions that follow.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.

i. Which stage of life is being referred to here by the poet?
→  The poet is referring to the period of life known as childhood.

ii. Which figure of speech has been employed in the second line?
→  In the second line, simile, a figure of speech in which the kid is likened to a snail using like, is used.

iii. Who is compared to the snail?
→  The schoolboy is compared to the snail.

iv. Does the boy go to the school willingly?
→  No, the kid does not want to go to school. His hesitation could simply be compared to a snail moving towards his school.

d. Simile and metaphor are the two major poetic devices used in this poem. Explain citing examples of each.
A simile uses the terms “like” or “as” in place of comparisons. Direct analogies are used instead of using like or as in metaphors. Shakespeare has used such literary methods in this poem as well.

‘All the world’s a stage,’ and ‘all the men and women merely players,’ are metaphors used by Shakespeare because direct comparisons have been used in this context. Examples of similes in this poem are “Creeping like a snail” and “soldier… bearded like the pard” etc because of the usage of words ‘like’ and ‘as’.

e. Which style does the poet use to express his emotions about how he thinks that the world is a stage and all the people living in it are mere players?
→  The poet employs a narrative style to express his deepest feelings about how he views the world and the people who inhabit it as a stage on which all of us are mere actors or characters. He’s explained the truth about human life where seven stages of the entire lifespan are shown in sequence like in the story.

f. What is the main theme of this poem?
→  Life and its seven phases are the central themes of this poem. Everyone is destined to play seven different roles throughout their lives. It conveys the notion that, in the end, we are powerless, just as we were before. Birth and death are other major themes as they symbolize the entrance and exit of the player, respectively. The poem depicts how a person begins their life as a child and ends it as a stage when he returns to being a child, completely unaware of what has happened.

Reference beyond the text

a. Describe the various stages of humanlife picturised in the poem “All the world’s a stage.”
The seven phases of human development are described by Shakespeare. The world is like a theatre, and the people who inhabit it play the roles of various parts. The first stage begins as a helpless infant and ends up as a school-bound adolescent. After that, the young adolescent grows up as a passionate lover and then becomes a devoted soldier with boundless vigour. The judge in good clothing represents the fifth level, which is an intelligent and mature stage. Then comes retirement, when one’s eyes become droopy and the voice becomes shaky. Finally, one’s senses, memories, strength everything begin to deteriorate, until they eventually die. These are the seven stages of human life as described by the poet.

b. Is Shakespeare’s comparison of human’s life with a drama stage apt? How?
→  Shakespeare’s comparison of a person’s life to a theatrical play is proper. He compares the whole world to a theater, with men and women performing various roles. Each performer in a play enters the stage, does his or her part, and then exits the stage. The same may be said regarding our arrival in this world. Every one of us has a unique personality and manner of doing things. We leave this planet permanently when we die. Actors perform their seven different parts before leaving the stage, much as Shakespeare claimed that every man passes through seven stages in his life. On this earthly stage, we play the parts of a baby, a boy, a lover, a soldier, a judge an older man, and a very elderly man.


William Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage” is a realism poem. It was published in 1623. The poem’s central subject is that man has lost the game of life. The world, according to Shakespeare, is a stage, and everyone is a player. He claims that over the course of a man’s lifespan, there are seven phases. In his lifetime, he plays seven roles and then departs from the world’s stage. 

A man’s formative years are known as his childhood. He had fun with his mother’s arms around him while he played. During this time, he may vomit or cry a lot. 

At the second stage in his life, the guy is an apathetic secondary school student. In the third stage, he transforms into a passionate lover. He’s too busy writing love songs for his lover to get attention from his lover.
His aggressiveness and ambition had increased at the fourth stage. In everything he does, he’s trying to build his reputation. He decides to join the military because he wants to defend his nation. He matures and gains knowledge in his fifth stage, when he becomes a fair judge. He appears with loose trousers and glasses in the sixth stage.
It’s as if his once-masculine voice has been replaced with a childlike trill. His second childhood is the last period. Slowly, he begins to lose his senses of sight, sound, smell, and taste, as well as his ability to perform his previous duties.
As a result, Shakespeare’s poem ‘All the World’s a Stage’ depicts the seven phases of a man’s life.

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