As You Like It

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William Blake, Jacques and the Wounded Stag

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s more sophisticated, “calm,” and conversational plays. It is sort of a perplexing play to read.

I will pick out a passage from this play that impressed upon me. It is a speech by the melancholy traveller, Jacques.

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 shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school; and then the lover,

Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress’ eyebrow; then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like a pard,

Jealous in honour, 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 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* teach, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

(William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2.7.139-166)

*Sans=without


  • Act I
    • Scene 1: Older Brother, Younger Brother
    • Scene 2: Wrestling
    • Scene 3: A Banishment and a Plan
  • Act II
    • Scene 1: The Banished Duke and the Dying Stag
    • Scene 2: To Find the Missing
    • Scene 3: A Rumour of Burning the House
    • Scene 4: Rosalind et. al. in Arden
    • Scene 5: Songs
    • Scene 6: Orlando and Adam in Arden
    • Scene 7: The Kindness of the Banished
  • Act III
    • Scene 1: To Look for Orlando
    • Scene 2: A Tree Poet
    • Scene 3: Love Poems
    • Scene 4: Honesty or Beauty
    • Scene 5: Still Disguised
    • Scene 6: Silvius and Pheobe
  • Act IV
    • Scene 1: A Practice Marriage
    • Scene 2: A Hunted Deer
    • Scene 3: The Bloody Napkin
  • Act V
    • Scene 1: Who Will Marry Audrey?
    • Scene 2: Ganymede’s Promise
    • Scene 3: The Pages’ Song
    • Scene 4: The Wedlock Hymn
  • Epilogue: As It Pleases You
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