Shakespeare on Age, Appearance and Sex Appeal by Default

the older I wax the better I shall appear“I was created with a stubborn outside, with an aspect of iron, that, when I come to woo the ladies, I frighten them. But in faith the elder I wax, the better I shall appear: my comfort is that old age, that ill layer-up of beauty, can do no more spoils upon my face.” (King Henry V act 5, sc.2)

Comments.  In general modesty is good, but it is absolutely necessary when you are not (or do not consider yourself to be) Mr. America material.  Don’t you immediately recall these Shakespeare lines when asked about your age? You can always reply that you are old enough to have good taste and young enough to have an appetite. Age improving appearance by default, that is, by not adding more ‘spoils’ is quite an original proposition. Ambrose Bierce in his Devil’s Dictionary defined age as that period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we no longer have the enterprise to commit. Oscar Wilde said quite a lot on the subject. For example, “The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.” And, “As soon as people are old enough to know better, they don’t know anything at all.” The subject of age takes a completely different hue with ladies, but again Oscar Wilde suggests that no woman should ever be accurate about her age as it looks too calculating.
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In the Play.  King Henry V, after defeating the French at the battle of Agincourt, woos the queen of France

Image Source:   http://www.artchive.com/artchive/r/roualt/old_king.jpg.html

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