As You Like It

Explore the ways in which Shakespeare uses metatheatre in his plays

Explore the ways in which Shakespeare uses metatheatre in his plays

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

~ Jacques, As You Like It, Act II, scene vii, lines 139 - 142 ~

Shakespeare draws on the stage metaphor, an ancient idea stretching back to the time of Pythagoras, and incorporates this comparison of the real world and the world of theatre into a number of his plays. In offering this mutually analogous concept, Shakespeare makes frequent use of metatheatre to present the audience with a combination of these opposing 'worlds', commenting on both by metatheatrically breaking the audience's illusion of watching reality. Indeed, the real world (or 'life') and the world of theatre are so closely linked with the ideas of reality and illusion that they are virtually interchangeable terms, and Shakespeare makes pertinent observations about the intertwining of the four. By mirroring themes in the main plots, and apparently blending life/reality and theatre/illusion and blurring the boundaries between them, Shakespeare's metatheatre illustrates some of the ways in which reality and illusion seep into...

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