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As You Like It
Act II - Scene 7: Jacques
William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was, of course, the greatest playwright who ever lived. Born April 23, 1564 at Stratford-on-Avon in England, and dying on his birthday in 1616 at the age of 52, Shakespeare had a working vocabulary of some 30,000 words and is the most quoted author of all time.

Following are two classic monologues from As You Like It: "A Fool in the Forest" and "All the World's a Stage," also known as the "Seven Ages of Man." These memorable lines are delivered by the character of Jacques, the melancholy courtier and voice of philosophy, deep contemplation, penetrating observation and cynicism in the play. Shakespeare uses Jacques to stand apart and analyze the great drama of life. Both monologues, which occur in Act II, Scene 7, are directed to a band of woodsmen whom Jacques meets in the Forest of Arden.

In order to help understand the first passage, "A Fool in the Forest," the word MOTLEY refers to the multi-colored clothing of a jester; DIAL is a clock; POKE is a pocket; SANS means 'without.'

In the "Seven Ages of Man" monologue, MEWLING is to whimper, PARD means leopard, GOOD CAPON LINED refers to the act of taking bribes, WISE SAWS are well-tried proverbs and PANTALOON is a foolish figure made fun of by others.


A fool, a fool! I met a fool in the forest,
A motley fool; a miserable world!
As I do live by food, I met a fool
Who laid him down and bask'd him in the sun,
And rail'd on Lady Fortune in good terms,
In good set terms and, yet, a motley fool.
'Good morrow, fool,' quoth I. 'No, sir,' quoth he,
'Call me not fool till heaven hath sent me fortune:'
And then he drew a dial from his poke,
And, looking on it with lack-lustre eye,
Says very wisely, 'It is ten o'clock:
Thus we may see,' quoth he, 'how the world wags:
'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more 'twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.' When I did hear
The motley fool thus moral on the time,
My lungs began to crow like chanticleer,
That fools should be so deep-contemplative,
And I did laugh sans intermission
An hour by his dial. O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear.


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and 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 furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made 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 reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
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 slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards 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.

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