Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ Monologue Written from a Female Perspective

This is a response to the original monologue in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”, from a female respective.


Original monologue:


“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,

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,

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 honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

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;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

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

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.”



All the world’s a stage, life a play in which I play all of the parts. At first I was the infant, a bundle of joy and squeals and tears. I have reams and reams of video to boast my angelic childhood. Every time I was taken to the park I was suddenly the world’s greatest attraction at the zoo, the new exhibit at the museum, the newest fashion trend. Mothers cooed and fathers grinned; I was a child to be proud of.

Then came the optimistic school girl, skipping to her doom. Her heart so full of hope and love she failed to notice the malice and pain in others. I remember the heartache of losing friend after friend to childish jealousy that seemed to mean the world to us then, yet nothing now. The girl was lost to the warfare of socialising and I miss her still – she was sugar and spice but nothing was nice.

Next was the lover, timid and passive. Everything she did oozed desperation and asked for agency but never took it. She let so many people drag her down, so many men she should’ve ignored, so many women she should’ve kept close. Her boyfriends treated her like she treated herself; like she was nothing. She was just a concept to be filled with others wants and needs and feelings, while hers got swept to the side. She purred when she should’ve roared and grinned when she should’ve snarled.

Then, a soldier emerged, shedding her weak skin to let the fire inside escape. She burned like the sun, with just as much sense, and when she snarled, the world knew about it. So many friends were lost to this one, some she could afford to lose – others she couldn’t. But it didn’t seem to matter to her; she fought everyone who came close enough for her to grasp. She started a war against everyone that loved her and she watched them walk away, her lover, her sister, her best friend, her entire web of relationships broken in a day, and she called that winning. She was pretty to look at but dangerous to know.

After that I became justice. I destroyed any and every man-made barrier put in front of me; the glass ceiling shattered. I won my worthy friends back and made new ones. I stopped looking for approval in others and became the one to impress. Every move I made, every word I said radiated honour and integrity and I was happy. I helped friends and family with their problems with the world and I felt the wounds of the soldier healing. The woes of the world fell on my shoulders and I carried them with pride.

Then was Pantalone, justice decayed and forgotten; the world’s woes tossed to the side to make way for her greed. She burned through money and men like air. Anyone who was unfortunate enough to have something she wanted was soon disposed of. She killed a man for a diamond, orphaned countless children for mansions, tore towns apart for rent; all with the belief that she was right. She was ruthless where justice was kind, irritated where justice was charmed and angry where justice was patient. Her fortune wavered and dipped but she never did.

From there came the elderly, the weak old woman nearing oblivion. Here, I sit, surrounded by memoirs from my past roles. The reams of videos showing the infants beauty remind me that I was once innocent. The scars from the school girl remind me others are not. From the lover, so many empty gifts; a teddy bear from the one who hit me, a valentine’s card from the one who cheated, an engagement ring from the one who left. All the soldier left me with is fire, a burning passion for all the roles I’ve played to have meant something. From justice I kept so much; all the photographs with friends and family and boyfriends and girlfriends and I look at them now and still feel a surge of joy. She was my favourite role I think, never content with the suffering in the world with the self-generated power to do something about it. I’m not sure how I got from her to Pantalone, yet I have the wealth and skeletons to prove it.

So now I wait for a new type of casting call, eager to know if all the world’s a stage, who is the director?