When I first came across the “Seven Ages of Man”, as seen in Shakespeare’s “As you like it”, I knew it would be a good skeleton for fleshing out the plot for my story. This led to deciding on having Alice spend 7 years on Dog-Land, so each year will coincide with every stage in Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages”.
When I got down to the plot details, I was continually surprised by how my story made perfect sense when I simply followed what the “Seven Ages” means. Without revealing too much of the plot, each year in Dog-Land fits perfectly into the Seven Ages narrative.
For instance, Age 1 (the infant) logically fits well with Year 1 of my story. Alice enters a new world, as helpless as a newborn infant, trying to make sense of her surroundings all over again.
And then in Age 2 (the child), Alice regains her ability to speak, and begins to make her way with more confidence (though she’s still in a cage). She questions the practices of Dog-land and her environment, and is a prisoner to its expectations on her (a pet) just as the world places its demands on a child. (to attend school etc)
In fact, I intentionally removed her capacity for speech to reflect how infants can’t talk. In Alice’s situation, her loss of speech is due to overwhelming shock.
Just last week, I was surprised to find out that Shakespeare isn’t responsible for inventing this ingenious observation of humans. He only popularised it in his play. Long before him, the “Seven Ages” was a well-known concept. That was why Shakespeare used this allusion in his play.
This goes to show how sensible and universal the “Seven Ages” is. Before Shakespeare, audiences already understood what it meant. And it has served my story in good stead.
So throughout Seven Years in Dog-Land, you’ll see how seamless “Seven Ages” fits into the plot of “Seven Years”.