Seven Ages of Man

Our Summer Challenge for the past couple of months has to been to complete a photographic essay/interpretation of the Seven Ages of Man which appears in William Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, Act II scene vii.

You can see the entire speech at the end of this post. To summarise, the seven ages are

  1. The infant
  2. The whining school-boy/girl
  3. The lover
  4. The Soldier
  5. The Justice
  6. The lean and slipper’d pantaloon
  7. Second childishness

This task was set by Simon, who in addition to critiquing the entries gave us a presentation on the Hulton Getty catalogue of images selected from their archives and arranged along the lines of these 7 ages or ‘Acts.’

Hulton Getty catalogue, 7 Ages of Man
Members can access a pdf of the presentation which also includes the entries into the competition by following this link.
 
There is also a recording of Simon’s critique here.
 
Many thanks to Simon for not just providing us with a stimulating challenge but also for following this up with an in depth critique of the entries and additional fascinating information on Sir Edward George Warris Hulton, the Picture Post and latterly Hulton Getty and their collection of photographs.
 
Shakespeare; As You Like It, Act II, Scene vii
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;
 
And then the whining school-boy, 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 honour, 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 lin’d,
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 slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, 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.