The Elderly in Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, 1 Henry VI (1589-90; rev. 1594-95):

  Mor.  Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,
Let dying Mortimer here rest himself.
Even like a man new haled from the rack,
So fare my limbs with long imprisonment;
And these grey locks, the pursuivants of death,
Nestor-like aged in an age of care,
Argue the end of Edmund Mortimer.
These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,
Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent;
Weak shoulders, overborne with burthening grief,
And pithless arms, like to a wither'd vine
That droops his sapless branches to the ground.
Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb
(Unable to support this lump of clay),
Swift-winged with desire to get a grave,
As witting I no other comfort have. (2.5.1-16) 

William Shakespeare, Richard III (1592-93):

  [Q. Mar.]  Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out
In sharing that which you have pill’d from me!
Which of you trembles not that looks on me?
If not, that I am queen, you bow like subjects,
Yet that, by you depose’d, you quake like rebels?
Ah, gentle villain, do not turn away!
  Glou.  Foul wrinkled witch, what mak’st thou in my sight? (1.3.157-63)

William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors (1592-94):

  Aeg.  O, grief hath changed me since you saw me last,
And careful hours with time's deformed hand
Have written strange defeatures in my face:
But tell me yet, dost thou not know my voice?...
Not know my voice! O time’s extremity,
Hast thou so crack’d and splitted my poor tongue
In seven short years, that here my only son
Knows not my feeble key of untun’d cares?
Though now this grainèd face of mine be hid
In sap-consuming winter’s drizzled snow,
And all the conduits of my blood froze up,
Yet hath my night of life some memory,
My wasting lamps some fading glimmer left,
My dull deaf ears a little use to hear:
All these old witnesses – I cannot err –
Tell me thou art my son Antipholus. (5.1.298-319) 

William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus (1593-94):

  [Marc.]  Be candidatus then and put it on,
And help to set a head on headless Rome.
  Tit.  A better head her glorious body fits
Than his that shakes for age and feebleness. (1.1.185-88)

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (1595):

  [Jul.]  Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be as swift in motion as a ball;
My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
And his to me.
But old folks – many feign as they were dead,
Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead. (2.5.12-17)

William Shakespeare, Richard II (1595):

  K. Rich.  What comfort, man? how is’t with aged Gaunt?
  Gaunt.  O how that name befits my composition!
Old Gaunt indeed, and gaunt in being old.
Within me grief hath kept a tedious fast;
And who abstains from meat that is not gaunt?
For sleeping England long time have I watch'd,
Watching breeds leanness, leanness is all gaunt.
The pleasure that some fathers feed upon,
Is my strict fast – I mean, my children's looks;
And therein fasting, hast thou made me gaunt,
Gaunt am I for the grave, gaunt as a grave,
Whose hollow womb inherits nought but bones.
  K. Rich.  Can sick men play so nicely with their names? (2.1.72-84) 

William Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV (1596-97):

  [Prince.]  There is a devil haunts thee in the likeness of an old fat man….
  [Fal.]  Whom means your Grace?
  Prince.  That villanous abominable misleader of youth, Falstaff, that old white-bearded Sathan. (2.4.447-63)

William Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV (1598):

  Fal.  My King, my Jove! I speak to thee, my heart!
  King.  I know thee not, old man, fall to thy prayers.
How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
I have long dream'd of such a kind of man,
So surfeit-swell'd, so old and so profane;
But, being awaked, I do despise my dream.
Make less thy body (hence) and more thy grace,
Leave gormandizing, know the grave doth gape
For thee thrice wider than for other men. (5.5.47-54)

William Shakespeare, As You Like It (1599):

  [Adam.]  Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty;
For in my youth I never did apply
Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood,
Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo
The means of weakness and debility;
Therefore my age is as a lusty winter,
Frosty, but kindly. Let me go with you,
I’ll do the service of a younger man. (2.3.47-54) 

William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-01):

  Pol.  Well be with you, gentlemen!
  Ham.  [Aside to them.]  Herk you, Guildenstern, and you too – at each ear a hearer – that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts.
  Ros.  Happily he is the second time come to them, for they say an old man is twice a child. (2.2.380-85)

William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida (1601-03):

  [Nest.]  I knew thy grandsire,
And once fought with him. He was a soldier good,
But, by grat Mars, the captain of us all,
Never like thee. O, let an old man embrace thee,
And, worthy warrior, welcome to our tents.
  Aene.  ‘Tis the old Nestor.
  Hect.  Let me embrace thee, good old chronicle,
That hast so long walk'd hand in hand with time.
Most reverend Nestor, I am glad to clasp thee. (4.5.196-204)

William Shakespeare, King Lear (1605):

  [Lear.]  Know that we have divided
In three our kingdom; and ‘tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age,
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburthen’d crawl toward death. (1.1.37-41)

  [Lear.]  I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind. (4.7.59-62) 

William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale (1610-11):

  [Leon.]  Chide me, dear stone, that I may say indeed
Thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she
In thy not chiding; for she was as tender
As infancy and grace. But yet, Paulina,
Hermione was not so much wrinkled, nothing
So aged as this seems.
  Pol.  O, not by much.
  Paul.  So much the more our carver's excellence;
Which lets go by some sixteen years and makes her
As she lived now. (5.3.24-32)

William Shakespeare, The Tempest (1611):

  [Pros.]  And in the morn
I’ll bring you to your ship, and so to Naples,
Where I have hope to see the nuptial
Of these our dear-belov’d solemnized,
And thence retire me to my Milan, where
Every third thought shall be my grave. (5.1.307-12)