The monologue The Seven Ages Of Man written by William Shakespeare is renowned for the way in which it presents the world as a stage and every living creature as merely players, pawns upon it. The monologue is written in prose and creates a division of seven stages in the human life cycle.
The language style is said in an unusual combination of both a humorous and a vaguely bleak outlook. The humour is conveyed almost subtly by the use of metaphors and phrasing not used in our context.
“… the lover,
Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow…”
The more pessimistic view is implied in the obvious insinuation that old age and death await us all and it is unyielding and unavoidable.
“… Last scene of all,
That ends this strange and eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything…”
The concept of the seven stages in itself is intriguing and knits in tightly with “… The world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players … His act being seven stages…”. In the opinion of the thinker, man’s life on earth is simply a drama play on an enormous scale; where men and women each play their respective roles in the time before their death. Each human is obligated to play a definite role in his or her life and journey to death. Each role consisting of seven acts.
The height of the humour in the monologue is at the metaphorical height of a man’s [in this case] life. The fourth stage; the soldier. This man is at the cumulating point of his strength, courage and all round wellbeing. The quick temper attributed to this particular act is the high point before the fifth act and onwards where the man begins to mellow and grow wiser. This is the height of his life and is therefore the height of the humour in this particular extract.