The Seven Stages of Woman

Jacques’ speech in As You Like It by Wm Shakespeare (Act II, Scene vii) reinterpreted

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one woman in her time plays many parts,
Her acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the crosspatch helper, with her ideas
And tightly braided hair, pulled from her play and set
Unwillingly to work. And then the lovesick,
Sighing like a furnace, fizzy with delight
When her eye’s fancy returns a look. Then a Mother,
Full of strange life and bellied like the moon,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Claiming the better method
Even in the night’s wee hours. And then the Karen,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and hair of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so she plays her part. The sixth age shifts
Into the spare and careful yogini,
With spectacles on head and purse on back;
Her youthful size, resumed, covered in skin
Too dry and loose, and her woman’s voice
Turning again toward childish uselessness,
A melancholy 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.

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