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All the world's a stage

The beginning of a speech in the play As You Like It, by William Shakespeare. It is also called “The Seven Ages of Man,” because it treats that many periods in a man's life: his years as infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, judge, foolish old man, and finally “second childishness and mere oblivion.” The speech begins: “All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players....”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.