All the worlds 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 nurses arms. Then the whining school-boy, with his satchelAnd shining morning face, creeping like snailUnwillingly to school. And then the lover,Sighing like furnace, with a woeful balladMade to his mistress eyebrow. Then a soldier,Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,Seeking the bubble reputationEven in the cannons mouth. And then the justice,In fair round belly with good capon lind,With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,Full of wise saws and modern instances;And so he plays his part. The sixth age shiftsInto the lean and slipperd pantaloon [dotard],With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,His youthful hose, well savd, a world too wideFor his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,Turning again toward childish treble, pipesAnd 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 every thing.
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Source Notes: Source: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, As You Like It, act II, scene vii, lines 13966. Jaques is speaking.
Born ca. 1564 and died ca. 1616 during the Renaissance period (1450-1599). One of the greatest writers of all time, Shakespeare, the peerless poet of the Sonnets and the creator of such dramatic masterpieces as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and King Lear, is a playwright of paradigmatic originality. In his discussion of the Western literary canon, critic Harold Bloom declared: "Shakespeare and Dante are the center of the Canon because they excel all other Western writer in cognitive acuity, linguistic energy, and power of invention." However, one could go a step further and suggest that Shakespeare defines the Western canon because he transcends it. If Shakespeare, as Ben Jonson declared, "was not of an age, but for all time," the great dramatist, one could argue, spoke to the ultimate concerns of humankind, regardless of period or cultural tradition.