The Stages of a Human Life: 408 Years Ago vs. Today
We may have more information than any generation before us, but does instant access to video game cheat codes really make life today better than it was hundreds of years ago? In "All the world's a stage," one of Shakespeares best-known monologues, he breaks human life into 7 easy to digest parts (he probably could have written for Cracked.com). And while certain details may have changedlonger life spans, fewer children, more bottled wine coolerstheir lives dont seem all that different from ours. All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players,They have their exits and entrances,And one man in his time plays many parts,His acts being seven ages.We still have actors. Hell, we have reality TV! But every aging classic needs to be occasionally updated for the sake of remaining relevant, and dammit, what's the modern equivalent to Shakespeare if not me, Cracked.com's Michael Swaim? Verily, I doth be. So lets see how we stack up:
InfancyThe Lines: At first the infant,Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.The Analysis:Okay Billy Boy, you havent taken a lot of chances here. Its a safe assumption that infants are still going to be puking for the foreseeable future. A recent study showed that about thirty percent of an infants body weight is either green feces or spit-up, and thats all gotta come out sometime. If anything, the weakness here is a lack of information; yes, you want to stay punchy, but the modern infancy really cant be described without the mention of some key points. For example, according to the
ChildhoodThe Lines:Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchelAnd shining morning face, creeping like snailUnwillingly to school. The Analysis:Again, youre right on for the first line or so; kids whine as much as they ever did. In fact, whining seems to be on the rise (or parenting on the wane), as nearly a quarter of todays U.S. children have
YouthThe Lines:And then the lover,Sighing like furnace, with a woeful balladMade to his mistress' eyebrow. The Analysis:Heres where your monologue starts to kind of fall apart. Romantic love is certainly admirable, and theres still a place for it in our culture: shitty movies and Danielle Steele novels. But if youre trying to capture the sexual experience of the modern youth, you have to face the facts that sexual activity in teens has been increasing for twenty years, and has hit more than 50 percent as of 2000. Which isnt to say the Elizabethan boys couldnt close the deal; judging from the number of fourteen-year old mothers walking around in 1650, there was just as much clumsy groping going on then as at the proms of our era. Luckily we future people have found a few tricks to keep those hasty, post-slow dance trysts from turning into full-fledged baby-itis. According to the
The TwentiesThe Lines:Then a soldier,Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,Seeking the bubble reputationEven in the cannon's mouth.
Middle AgeThe Lines:And then the justiceIn 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.
RetirementThe Lines:The sixth age shiftsInto 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 towards childish treble, pipesAnd whistles in his sound.
When not writing for Cracked, Michael is apostrophizing dead literary figures as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!