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Seven Stages of Woman
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Seven Stages of Woman

Contradictory Review on “All The World’s A Stage” – Seven Stages of Wo(Man)

Everyone talks about a man must live seven roles during his life. But, there are only a few who truly believe that a woman lives more than seven stages.

There is no other William Shakespeare in this world; however, many are trying to be one, even I am. There are several plays written by William Shakespeare that have gained popularity since its first act, and yes, they are going to be studied, performed and broadcast-ed for centuries to come. Shakespeare’s work can be classified into two genres, some even say he was a master when it came to writing tragedy and comedy; and, it’s rightfully true. The works are classic, peaceful and timeless. When we talk about comedy written by Shakespeare, it doesn’t depict humor, here, comedy means a happy ending.

In this review, the one that I shall be talking about is the from William Shakespeare’s most celebrated comedy, As You Like It; the passage referred is a monologue from Act II Scene VII; where melancholy Jaques recites to Duke Senior’s court-men about the seven stages of a human’s life. These are the roles a man/woman plays in a single lifetime where All the world’s a stage,

All the World’s a Stage

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 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 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 teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

For those who wish to listen to the audio of this classic recitation:

The Review:

One of Seven Stages: The Infant

In the above-mentioned passage, the second line reads:

And all the men and women merely players;”

Although the above-mentioned statement reads, “men and women”, but, nowhere in the remaining context, the role of women is described. The entire verse just describes the role and seven stages of a man’s life.

The reason for it is quite simple; during the Shakespearean Era, females were not considered as a matter of sheer importance, and the only role they had to abide was staying adobe to take care of cooking and house-keeping.

Two of Seven Stages: The School Boy

Women were not allowed to go to school, only those who had high social status with the luxury to spend were blessed with the virtue of education from books; for all the other maidens, the only source of education was paying close attention to men of the house talking and preaching the girls, or it was the church that did all the teachings.

Three of Seven Stages: The Lover

When it comes to women falling in love, it’s still considered a taboo, rather an act of guilt in some parts of the world; however, in modern-day Britain, girls have the freedom to love. But, during the Shakespearean Era, girls were not supposed to fall in love. And even if a girl did, the priest was asked to free her from the evil spirit. Women were to love only after their marriage. Yes, it does seem pathetic. Society did one more evil deed; ripped out love from a girl’s life. She was not supposed to write letters, talk to her beau, and only indulge in a relationship with a man approved by her father.

Since then, women have come a long way, from the continuous feeling of someone choking them and living a life where the only way to breath was suffocation; women have hit the correct spots. I’m not saying that William Shakespeare was a part of the Macho society, no. If you take a closer and deeper look into his work, he always gave more weight-age to the female lead(s) than the male. Even in the play, As You Like It, the main lead is Rosalind and not Orlando.

Four of Seven Stages: The Soldier / Fighter

When we talk about work and career of a woman in today’s world; it’s pretty much a competitive sight. However, back then, only the “Hero” was the soldier and work for his family. Make a name for himself, get recognition and appreciation by the country for his bravery, courage and achievements. We can say that a soldier returning from the war, obviously after winning is always a national hero; and why not, those were his efforts and sacrifices that made the people feel safe and sound.

Now, let’s get to women during the time when William Shakespeare wrote As You Like It, women did not work. Even if they were, those were “Female Jobs”, like cooking, tailoring, baby/kids daycare, etc. Hell, the character of Rosalind was played by a boy who used to put on a female costume and wear glittery makeup to convince the audience that he was a girl and portraying the lead role. However, when Rosalind disguises herself as Ganymede, the actor did not have to put on a male costume, he was male. I know, it seems confusing, but, this is the way it was in 1599.

So,

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.

Fits perfectly for today’s woman. Let’s read the above verse by replacing a few words with today’s references.

a woman,
Full of strange desires and ambitions higher than the Everest,
Jealous in sex-discrimination, sudden and quick in her work,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even when her voice is not given importance.

Now, the revised verse does seem a lot familiar, doesn’t it?

Five of Stage Seven: The Just Women

Since females were the inferior gender during the Shakespearean Era; they had no voice and no say in the public matter. So, being a lady who was just was not acceptable, neither by her family nor by society. The females had a major role in raising the family that shall be fit for society; however, they had no say on how to raise the family.

A male dominant society never gave the female the freedom to do anything they wished or desired. Females were supposed to abide by the rules prescribed, first by her father and later by her husband. This instance went for centuries and up to this date, it’s still observed in some parts of the world, especially in India.

Six of Stage Seven: The Middle-Aged Lady

When a lady enters her pantaloons, she is still the same, naïve, innocent and far from the world’s mischiefs. Yet, she pretends to be strong; however, by this stage of her life, she realizes that she shall have respect only if she takes the command. Pantaloons for men and women are the same. They often tend to live on their life’s savings, do everything for their kids and spend time with themselves.

The Last Stage: Old Age

The old age is the most important for the ladies. Kids understand the importance of mother and her love when they become parents. So, a mother in her old age is loved more than ever. And in that love – respect, care and affection are visible even to a blind man. Well, that is the thing a lady craves for her entire life; Love, Care, Respect and Acceptance from the ones she has loved for her life. She has sacrificed her life for their best interests only to get the title of shame, embarrassment and the force that holds her kids back. To the people who are reading this, realize it that your mother is never holding you back; actually, she is the force who is constantly pushing you.

This was my review in contradiction on “Seven Stages of a Man’s Life”  by William Shakespeare. Let us know about your thoughts in the comments below.

Vatsal Vora

A writer with flair sense of writing and a creative mind which continues to explore new places to visit and quirky delicacies for the whole and sole purpose stating that life is given to us only once; why not experience the human emotions in the form of food rather than whining about the missed opportunities.
Vatsal Vora started his professional career as a client servicing executive to a writer and being the editor and founder of this blog. Working with just one motive: “No matter how it is done; it is supposed to be completed with quality and result being the integrated aspect of any work in hand.”
A believer of second chances and many more after them, because people tend to change, and once loved can always be loved again, just need time and enough confidence in the universe and more than required faith in oneself.

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