AS YOU LIKE IT Pt3: SEVEN
3. The Power of 7
As today is the day 7 of February 2022 it seems appropriate to draw attention to the use of 7 in Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT.
‘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.’ – Jacques
This famous speech by Jacques in Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT is not the only time the number 7 is mentioned.
It also occurs in Touchstone’s hilarious description of lying and quarrelling:
‘O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book; as you have books for good manners: I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; The second, the Quip Modest; The third, the Reply Churlish; The fourth, the Reproof Valiant; The fifth, the Countercheque Quarrelsome; The sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; The seventh, the Lie Direct. All these you may avoid but the Lie Direct; and you may avoid that too, with an ‘If’. I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel, but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought b
ut of an ‘If’, as, 'If you said so, then I said so;' and they shook hands and swore brothers. Your ‘If’ is the only peacemaker; much virtue in ‘If’.’ – Touchstone
Jacques, however, is particularly associated with the number 7. In his exchange with Rosalind (as Ganymede) he/she cites the 7 types of ‘melancholy’.
‘I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is emulation, nor the musician's, which is fantastical, nor the courtier's, which is proud, nor the soldier's, which is ambitious, nor the lawyer's, which is politic, nor the lady's, which is nice, nor the lover's, which is all these: but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry's contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.’ – Jacques
So – what does the number 7 mean and symbolise?
‘7’ is often considered a lucky number. It appears symbolically and significantly in a number of domains, including literature, art., science, religion, and mythology.
It is the first number to have more than one syllable. In the classical world there were only ‘7 planets’, that co-related to the ‘7 days of the week’.
There is also:
The Seven Days of Creation The Seven Pillars of Wisdom The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World The Seven Seas The Seven Deadly Sins The Seven Virtues Seven Days of Passover Seven Against Thebes Seven Samurai The Magnificent Seven Seven
And it goes on….
What does 7 mean to you?