In Shakespeare’s As you Like It, when the banished Duke comments on the human situation, Jaques, the melancholy philosopher makes his famous speech concerning the seven stages of human life. Here the world is considered to be a stage. Human beings play in different parts in life which is called a play. The play starts with the birth of the child and closes with death.
According to Jaques, the seven stages of human life are those of the infant, the school-boy, the lover, the soldier, the justice, the late middle-aged man, and the old man. He describes all the stages vividly and points out the outward and inward qualities of all the stages.
Man plays his part in different stages of the development of his life. Life has its ups and downs. Each stage is characterised by different dress, style, behaviour and mentality. A man plays his parts in seven stages of life like the seven acts of a drama.
First, he cries and vomits in the nurse’s arms in his very childhood. He grows into the complaining schoolboy unwilling to go to school. Then he turns into a young lover with signs of languishment. It yields place to the heroic age of soldierly life full of vim vigour and anger together with vain and short-lived reputation. In the next stage of life, he becomes grave, mature with the soundness of justice. Later on, the old fellow is sick of many old-age troubles and sufferings. The last age marks him a second child with all sorts of physical weakness and mental frustration. At last, he meets an inevitable death.
Jaques critically examines the different stages of the development of man’s life with a great philosophical outlook.