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Top 15 Quotes by Shakespeare

Updated on December 10, 2012

Shakespeare Quotes

Today we're going to focus on some of the most memorable quotes by William Shakespeare, from his notorious works to his most personal sonnets, but first.

What can be said about Shakespeare?

Surprisingly, quite a lot. I say surprisingly because of how mysterious this legendary poet and playwright was. All that we know for certain are merely shallow biographical outlines of his life. However, what Shakespeare's notorious works as well as his more personal sonnets reveal is more than any autobiography could.

Shakespeare's most notable gift is his vast comprehension of human nature and his ability to put it in writing.

The world would indeed be a better place if we learn the lessons Shakespeare tried to teach us about letting greed, revenge, paranoia and fear take over our moral compass.

Shakespeare Quotations :

  1. "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."

    Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like a toad, though ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in its head."

  2. "There is a tide in the affairs of men.

    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

    Omitted, all the voyage of their life

    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

    On such a full sea are we now afloat,

    And we must take the current when it serves,

    Or lose our ventures."

  3. "A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,

    We bid be quiet when we hear it cry,

    But were we burdened with like weight of pain,

    As much or more we should ourselves complain."

  4. "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."

  5. "I despised my arrival on this earth and I despise my departure; it is a tragedy."
  6. "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool."
  7. "Talking isn't doing. It is a kind of good deed to say well; and yet words are not deeds."
  8. "Oh, it is excellent to have a giant's strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant."
  9. "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
  10. "We cannot conceive of matter being formed of nothing, since things require a seed to start from... Therefore there is not anything which returns to nothing, but all things return dissolved into their elements."
  11. "Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."
  12. "Oh, what a bitter thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes."
  13. "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."
  14. "I must be cruel only to be kind;

    Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind."

  15. "Neither a borrower nor a lender be;

    For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

    And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry."

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    • profile image

      Surazeus 5 years ago

      That is not a picture of Shakespeare. Number 10 is by Lucretius the Roman poet in his book about atoms, On the Nature of Things:

      Nil igitur fieri de nilo posse putandum es

      Semine quando opus est rebus.

      We cannot conceive of matter being formed of nothing,

      since things require a seed to start from.

      Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, Book I, line 206.

      Haud igitur redit ad Nihilum res ulla, sed omnes

      Discidio redeunt in corpora materiai.

      Therefore there is not anything which returns to nothing,

      but all things return dissolved into their elements.

      Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, Book I. 250.

    • Demaw profile image

      Demaw 5 years ago

      One of my favorites is #15 "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." It helps you take borrowing anything very seriously.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Shakespeare's quotes are all worth reading, but you sure picked great ones for the top 15. :)

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 5 years ago from New York

      I have loved Shakespeare since I was a little girl. Regardless who the real author may be, they are works of literature that will live on through the ages with words of wisdom that shall continue to be passed down.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Shakespeare is one of those writers whose work you adore or hate, and I'm proud to say I am in the adore category. He's not that hard to read, and his imagery and language is spectacular.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Shakespeare is one of those writers whose work you adore or hate, and I'm proud to say I am in the adore category. He's not that hard to read, and his imagery and language is spectacular.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Definitely some excellent selections! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • profile image

      LydiaBiz 5 years ago

      I love these quotes.

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 5 years ago

      I'm also a huge fan of quotations and I love Shakespeare. Thanks for sharing! =)

    • Hypersapien2 profile image

      Hypersapien2 5 years ago from U.S.

      Nice quotes!

    • sittonbull profile image

      sittonbull 5 years ago

      Gotta love Will...among the most quoted men of all time! Appreciate your visit with the squid like and comment. Have a great day!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      He was requoting a verse from Proverbs in #15 (many of his great quotes were penned from using the Bible). His writing was a pleasure to teach. I used to have all his works.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      I love quotes and these are some real classics!

    • avigarret profile image
      Author

      avigarret 5 years ago

      @CuAllaidh: A very good point, I've considered doing this actually... might do this in the next update and add a little content as well, thanks for your input.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Very nice lens :D.... though personally I'd like to know what works each quote was from

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 5 years ago

      I volunteer at the Tudor Guild shop at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival, and I get these quips tossed at me on a daily basis - they are great fun.

    • AlphaChic profile image

      AlphaChic 5 years ago

      #4 is my favorite. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 5 years ago

      "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool." One of my favorites!

    • RedShoesGirl profile image

      RedShoesGirl 5 years ago

      a genius that people will always remember.very nice lens.

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

      I love great quotes, and these ARE great quotes.

      Some of my favorite Shakespeare quotes:

      * "Swear not by the moon, that radiant orb, that thy love prove likewise changeable." (Juliet to Romeo, "Romeo & Juliet")

      * "You all did love him [Caesar] once, not without cause. What cause withholds you now to mourn for him? Oh judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason - bear with me. My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar and I must pause to let it come back to me." (Mark Antony, the funeral oration from "Julius Caesar").

      * And, showing that Shakespeare had a very modern sense of humor:

      "What do you read..?"

      "Words." (Hamlet answering a courtier, in "Hamlet").

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      I like #9. Very true.