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NCERT Textbook - The Seven Ages Notes | Study English Class 9 - Class 9

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 Page 1


CBSE
10 10
UNIT UNIT
Poetry
P.5    The Seven Ages
by William Shakespeare
1. What according to you are the stages of a person's life? What characteristics 
would you associate with each stage? (e.g., childhood: innocence, joy)
2. Listen to this extract from Shakespeare's play As You Like It. As you listen, read 
the poem aloud; you can do this more than once.
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,
5 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,
10 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.
15 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;
80
mewling: crying 
puking: being sick, vomiting
satchel: a small bag, for carrying school books
woeful: very sad oaths: solemn promises
pard: leopard (a symbol of fierceness in Shakespeare's time)
cannon: a big gun that fired cannon-balls made of iron justice: judge
capon: a male chicken, very big and fat saws: sayings
Page 2


CBSE
10 10
UNIT UNIT
Poetry
P.5    The Seven Ages
by William Shakespeare
1. What according to you are the stages of a person's life? What characteristics 
would you associate with each stage? (e.g., childhood: innocence, joy)
2. Listen to this extract from Shakespeare's play As You Like It. As you listen, read 
the poem aloud; you can do this more than once.
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,
5 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,
10 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.
15 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;
80
mewling: crying 
puking: being sick, vomiting
satchel: a small bag, for carrying school books
woeful: very sad oaths: solemn promises
pard: leopard (a symbol of fierceness in Shakespeare's time)
cannon: a big gun that fired cannon-balls made of iron justice: judge
capon: a male chicken, very big and fat saws: sayings
CBSE
Poetry
81 
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
20 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
25 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.
About the Poet
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. He is 
considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time. He wrote 154 sonnets, two 
long narrative poems and about three dozen plays. Shakespeare used poetic and 
dramatic means to create unified aesthetic effects. In verse he perfected the dramatic 
blank verse.
3. On the basis of your understanding of the poem, answer the following questions 
by ticking the correct choice
(a) All the world's a stage is an extended metaphor for________.
(i) the life shown in well known plays.
(ii) seeing the well known plays.
(iii) life of well known actors.
(iv) life of man that comes to an end. 
(b) All 'have their exits and their entrances'. Exits and entrances refer to __________. 
(i) birth and death
(ii) beginning and end of play
(iii) coming and going of actors
(iv) the end of the Shakespearean era
slippered : wearing slippers (indoor shoes)
pantaloon: a funny old man, on whom other people play tricks
pouch: a soft fold of loose skin that hangs down, as a result of illness or old age
hose: tight-fitting leg coverings
shank: legs from the knee to the ankle
treble: a high voice
oblivion: forgetting everything, and being forgotten by everybody
sans: (pronounced like sone) a French word meaning without
Page 3


CBSE
10 10
UNIT UNIT
Poetry
P.5    The Seven Ages
by William Shakespeare
1. What according to you are the stages of a person's life? What characteristics 
would you associate with each stage? (e.g., childhood: innocence, joy)
2. Listen to this extract from Shakespeare's play As You Like It. As you listen, read 
the poem aloud; you can do this more than once.
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,
5 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,
10 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.
15 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;
80
mewling: crying 
puking: being sick, vomiting
satchel: a small bag, for carrying school books
woeful: very sad oaths: solemn promises
pard: leopard (a symbol of fierceness in Shakespeare's time)
cannon: a big gun that fired cannon-balls made of iron justice: judge
capon: a male chicken, very big and fat saws: sayings
CBSE
Poetry
81 
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
20 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
25 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.
About the Poet
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. He is 
considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time. He wrote 154 sonnets, two 
long narrative poems and about three dozen plays. Shakespeare used poetic and 
dramatic means to create unified aesthetic effects. In verse he perfected the dramatic 
blank verse.
3. On the basis of your understanding of the poem, answer the following questions 
by ticking the correct choice
(a) All the world's a stage is an extended metaphor for________.
(i) the life shown in well known plays.
(ii) seeing the well known plays.
(iii) life of well known actors.
(iv) life of man that comes to an end. 
(b) All 'have their exits and their entrances'. Exits and entrances refer to __________. 
(i) birth and death
(ii) beginning and end of play
(iii) coming and going of actors
(iv) the end of the Shakespearean era
slippered : wearing slippers (indoor shoes)
pantaloon: a funny old man, on whom other people play tricks
pouch: a soft fold of loose skin that hangs down, as a result of illness or old age
hose: tight-fitting leg coverings
shank: legs from the knee to the ankle
treble: a high voice
oblivion: forgetting everything, and being forgotten by everybody
sans: (pronounced like sone) a French word meaning without
CBSE
Poetry 
82
(c) The seven roles that a man plays correspond to his __
(i) chronological age in life
(ii) desires
(iii) mental age in life
(iv) idea of a perfect life
4. Having read this extract, identify the stages of a person's life as Shakespeare has 
done. Write down these stages in your note book, and sum up the characteristics 
of each stage in two or three words. e.g.
Stage Characteristic feature
infancy crying
5. Work individually, and rank the seven stages in order of attractiveness. If you 
think being a schoolboy is most attractive, you could rank it number 1. Then, 
work in groups of four and compare your individual rankings.
6.      Explain the meaning of the following
a)     ... all the men and women merely players: 
They have their exits and their entrances...
b) And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace...
c) a soldier,
... Seeking the bubble reputation 
Even in the cannon's mouth.
7. You already know the two literary devices generally used by writers for 
comparison, i.e. metaphor and simile. e.g.
a)       He was a lion in the battle, (metaphor)
b)       He fought like a lion, (simile)
In (a) the writer talks of the soldier in terms of a lion. The comparison is implied. In (b) the 
writer compares the soldier to a lion with the use of the word like, (as may also be used 
for such comparisons.)
Page 4


CBSE
10 10
UNIT UNIT
Poetry
P.5    The Seven Ages
by William Shakespeare
1. What according to you are the stages of a person's life? What characteristics 
would you associate with each stage? (e.g., childhood: innocence, joy)
2. Listen to this extract from Shakespeare's play As You Like It. As you listen, read 
the poem aloud; you can do this more than once.
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,
5 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,
10 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.
15 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;
80
mewling: crying 
puking: being sick, vomiting
satchel: a small bag, for carrying school books
woeful: very sad oaths: solemn promises
pard: leopard (a symbol of fierceness in Shakespeare's time)
cannon: a big gun that fired cannon-balls made of iron justice: judge
capon: a male chicken, very big and fat saws: sayings
CBSE
Poetry
81 
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
20 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
25 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.
About the Poet
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. He is 
considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time. He wrote 154 sonnets, two 
long narrative poems and about three dozen plays. Shakespeare used poetic and 
dramatic means to create unified aesthetic effects. In verse he perfected the dramatic 
blank verse.
3. On the basis of your understanding of the poem, answer the following questions 
by ticking the correct choice
(a) All the world's a stage is an extended metaphor for________.
(i) the life shown in well known plays.
(ii) seeing the well known plays.
(iii) life of well known actors.
(iv) life of man that comes to an end. 
(b) All 'have their exits and their entrances'. Exits and entrances refer to __________. 
(i) birth and death
(ii) beginning and end of play
(iii) coming and going of actors
(iv) the end of the Shakespearean era
slippered : wearing slippers (indoor shoes)
pantaloon: a funny old man, on whom other people play tricks
pouch: a soft fold of loose skin that hangs down, as a result of illness or old age
hose: tight-fitting leg coverings
shank: legs from the knee to the ankle
treble: a high voice
oblivion: forgetting everything, and being forgotten by everybody
sans: (pronounced like sone) a French word meaning without
CBSE
Poetry 
82
(c) The seven roles that a man plays correspond to his __
(i) chronological age in life
(ii) desires
(iii) mental age in life
(iv) idea of a perfect life
4. Having read this extract, identify the stages of a person's life as Shakespeare has 
done. Write down these stages in your note book, and sum up the characteristics 
of each stage in two or three words. e.g.
Stage Characteristic feature
infancy crying
5. Work individually, and rank the seven stages in order of attractiveness. If you 
think being a schoolboy is most attractive, you could rank it number 1. Then, 
work in groups of four and compare your individual rankings.
6.      Explain the meaning of the following
a)     ... all the men and women merely players: 
They have their exits and their entrances...
b) And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace...
c) a soldier,
... Seeking the bubble reputation 
Even in the cannon's mouth.
7. You already know the two literary devices generally used by writers for 
comparison, i.e. metaphor and simile. e.g.
a)       He was a lion in the battle, (metaphor)
b)       He fought like a lion, (simile)
In (a) the writer talks of the soldier in terms of a lion. The comparison is implied. In (b) the 
writer compares the soldier to a lion with the use of the word like, (as may also be used 
for such comparisons.)
CBSE
Poetry
83
Read the poem again and note down the metaphors and similes. Copy and complete 
the following chart.
world all the world's a stage
men, women
school-boy
lover
soldier
reputation
voice
Which comparison(s) do you find most interesting? Why?
8. In this poem, life is compared with a play. Just as in a play, a man acts many parts, 
so also in life, a man plays many roles. Can you think of some other comparison 
for life? (For example, life could be compared with the seasons in nature, the 
days of the week, the lessons in a school day.) Select one of these comparisons 
(or choose one of your own), and write about the similarities that life has with it. 
(80-100 words)
9. Your teacher will select seven readers and seven "mimers," one pair for each of 
Shakespeare's seven ages. At the start of the reading, all seven "mimers" are at 
the front of the class and the readers are at their desks. For each age, the reader 
stands up and reads, while the corresponding "mimer" mimes what is being 
read.
Item Metaphor Simile
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