Tag Archives: Shakespeare

All the World’s a stage

all the world's a stage

We were sitted in church one Friday evening. It was our usual Friday devotion session. Normally we would sing, learn new songs, read bible verses, then the teacher who headed our devotion session, and also doubled as my netball coach, would expound on the readings. This particular day however, he chose to do it differently. As he paced right-left-center at the area between the altar and the pews, he focused his teachings on one of William Shakespeare’s pieces-All the world’s a stage:

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.

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel

And shinning 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 a 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 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.

I had never read the poem before, but as I listened to him talk about it so passionately-he also taught literature-I understood what he was driving at. His explanation was basic; a child is born, that’s when he enters the stage…he grows up, lives his life-good/bad-grows old, then he dies; that marks his inevitable exit. In his own words, “One only gets one chance to give a wonderful performance. When the curtains fall, the person exits and they never get a chance to redeem themselves. It’s only while on the stage that one can give the performance of their life.”

Referencing Shakespeare’s poem, he likened the world to a stage. Normally, when one gets on stage, it’s only protem, because either way they will have to exit. Such is life. When one gets off stage, they resume their normal life. He delved deeper; if the world is only a stage, what happens when one exits? Which is the real world? He was implying that this life we live is not permanent. We’re only here for a while, then after that we transit to the ‘real world’-eternity, that’s the real world, and we only get to live in eternal bliss or damnation for that matter depending on the performance we gave on stage.

Where we are now, we’re only here to play our cards, to determine where we end up, when we exit this stage-world-which apparently is inevitable. His words gave me so much to think about…