All the World’s a Stage – What Does That Mean?

We’ve all heard “all the world’s a stage” before. But what does it mean? Is the world just one big theater where we’re all actors playing our parts? So let’s take a closer look at this famous quote and explore what it means in today’s world. 

All the World’s a Stage – Origins of the Quote

The phrase “all the world’s a stage” comes from a monologue by the character Jaques in Shakespeare’s play As You Like It. In the monologue, Jaques reflects on the seven stages of human life, which he compares to the seven ages of a play. Here’s an excerpt from Jaques’ speech: 

The famous quote.

In other words, Jaques says life is like a play with seven distinct acts. Just as each of those has its purpose, so does each stage of life. 

And just as each play has its characters, so too does life. We’re all actors on this life stage, playing our respective roles. 

But what are these seven stages that Jaques mentions? He goes on to list them as follows: 

    Infancy: “Wherein they sleep and feed.” 

    Childhood: “And whiny and cry.”

    The lover: “Sighing like a furnace.”

    A soldier: “Full of strange oaths.”

    Justice: “In fair round belly…with good capon lined”

    Second childhood: “Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” 

Do these stages sound familiar? They should because they’re still relevant today! Sure, some languages are outdated (who says “sans teeth” anymore?), but the overall message is still valid. We all travel through similar stages in life, whether we realize it or not. 

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Sometimes you might not feel like playing your part. That’s natural. Nobody ever fits in one category or one stage of existence neatly. Humans are complicated, and that depth of nature is a blessing and curse. No matter your position and role in life, you have a chance to take action, direct your will, and manifest a new reality.

Shakespeare was onto something when he wrote those famous words 400 years ago. Life is like a play with seven distinct acts. We’re all actors on this life stage, playing our respective roles. So next time you feel lost or confused, remember that you’re not alone. We’re all trying to figure out our place in this big ol’ world. Thanks for reading!

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