Order It: Jaques’s “All the world’s a stage”

Jon Reynolds (Amiens), Joseph Marcell (Jaques), and Matthew McGloin (First Lord), directed by Derek Goldman, As You Like It, Folger Theatre, 2007. Stan Barouh.

In As You Like It, the exiled duke takes refuge in the Forest of Arden with his lords and followers, including the melancholy Jaques. Drawing on the world of the theater, Jaques gives a famous speech on life and the passage of time that compares the Seven Ages of Man, from babyhood to old age, to different roles played by the same actor. But after the opening line, “All the world’s a stage,” what comes next? Take this quiz to see if you can correctly order the lines of Jaques’s speech.


Jaques’s speech begins with a reference to “men and women” playing different parts, but in Shakespeare’s time, it was men who played some of the roles that he describes. In our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episode, Elizabeth Norton: The Hidden Lives of Elizabethan Women, author Elizabeth Norton uses the notion of the “Seven Ages of Women” to explore women’s lives in Elizabethan times, too. 

You can also learn about our magnificent Seven Ages of Man stained-glass window in the Explore Folger Spaces image gallery on our Building and Grounds page. And check out our blog post Up Close: A ‘Seven Ages of Man’ painting for an in-depth look at a work in the Folger collection that includes all of the seven ages—in the same painting.