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60 Life Lessons from William Shakespeare Quotes

Last updated on Jun 19th, 2019

60 Life Lessons from William Shakespeare Quotes

William Shakespeare, also known as the “Bard of Avon”, (baptized April 26, 1564, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England – died April 23, 1616, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England) was an English poet, playwright and actor, often called England’s national poet and widely considered to be the greatest dramatist of all time.

William Shakespeare produced most of his famous plays in the period between 1589 and 1613. He wrote tragedies, histories, comedies and tragicomedies, also known as romances. His overall work consists of at least 37 plays, 154 sonnets and two long narrative poems.

Some of the most noted plays are Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, King John, The Winter’s Tale, and Othello. Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into many world languages and are now read and performed more often than ever before.

Although William Shakespeare’s works are well-known throughout the world, most details about his private life are still a mystery.

1
All that glitters is not gold.Act II, Scene VII, The Merchant of Venice (1600)
2
The course of true love never did run smooth.Act I, Scene I, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1600)
Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. - William Shakespeare (All's Well That Ends Well Quotes)
3
Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.Act I, Scene I, All's Well That Ends Well (1623)
4
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.
(Modern text: Listen to many people, but talk to few.)
Act I, Scene III, Hamlet (1603)
5
Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.Act II, Scene II, The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602)
If music be the food of love, play on. - William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night Quotes)
6
If music be the food of love, play on.Act I, Scene I, Twelfth Night (1623)
7
The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.Act IV, Scene IV, Henry V (1599)
8
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
(Also known as: It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.)
Act I, Scene II, Julius Caesar (1623)
Hell is empty and all the devils are here. - William Shakespeare (The Tempest Quotes)
9
Hell is empty and all the devils are here.Act I, Scene II, The Tempest (1611)
10
Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.Act I, Scene V, Twelfth Night (1623)
11
Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.Act III, Scene II, Hamlet (1603)
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. - William Shakespeare (As You Like It Quotes)
12
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.Act V, Scene I, As You Like It (1623)
13
Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs.Act I, Scene I, Romeo and Juliet (1597)
14
The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.Act III, Scene II, Julius Caesar (1623)
Brevity is the soul of wit. - William Shakespeare (Hamlet Quotes)
15
Brevity is the soul of wit.Act II, Scene II, Hamlet (1603)
16
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.Act III, Scene III, Hamlet (1603)
17
A peace is of the nature of a conquest; for then both parties nobly are subdued, and neither party loser.Act IV, Scene II, Henry IV, Part 2
Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. - William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar Quotes)
18
Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.Act II, Scene II, Julius Caesar (1623)
19
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.Act V, Scene V, Macbeth (1623)
20
This above all; to thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.Act I, Scene III, Hamlet (1603)
No legacy is so rich as honesty. - William Shakespeare (All's Well That Ends Well Quotes)
21
No legacy is so rich as honesty.Act III, Scene V, All's Well That Ends Well (1623)
22
The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.Act I, Scene III, Othello (1622)
23
In time we hate that which we often fear.Act I, Scene III, Antony and Cleopatra (1623)
When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools. - William Shakespeare (King Lear Quotes)
24
When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.Act IV, Scene VI, King Lear (1608)
25
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.Act I, Scene VII, Macbeth (1623)
26
To do a great right, do a little wrong.Act VI, Scene I, The Merchant of Venice (1600)
To be, or not to be, that is the question. - William Shakespeare (Hamlet Quotes)
27
To be, or not to be, that is the question.Act III, Scene I, Hamlet (1603)
28
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.Act I, Scene IV, Measure for Measure (1623)
29
Love sought is good; but given unsought is better.Act III, Scene I, Twelfth Night (1623)
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. - William Shakespeare (Troilus and Cressida Quotes)
30
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.Act III, Scene III, Troilus and Cressida (1609)
31
Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale, vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.Act III, Scene IV, King John (1623)
32
God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another.Act III, Scene I, Hamlet (1603)
Ignorance is the curse of God, Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven. - William Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part 2 Quotes)
33
Ignorance is the curse of God, Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.Act IV, Scene VII, Henry VI, Part 2 (1623)
34
We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.Act IV, Scene I, The Tempest (1611)
35
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.Act II, Scene I, Measure for Measure (1623)
Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. - William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night Quotes)
36
Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.Act II, Scene V, Twelfth Night (1623)
37
When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions.Act IV, Scene V, Hamlet (1603)
38
Pleasure and action make the hours seem short.Act II, Scene III, Othello (1622)
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. - William Shakespeare (As You Like It Quotes)
39
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.Act II, Scene VII, As You Like It (1623)
40
If money go before, all ways do lie open.Act II, Scene II, The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602)
41
Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage.Act I, Scene V, Twelfth Night (1623)
We know what we are, but know not what we may be. - William Shakespeare (Hamlet Quotes)
42
We know what we are, but know not what we may be.Act IV, Scene V, Hamlet (1603)
43
Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful.Act III, Scene I, Measure for Measure (1623)
44
It is a wise father that knows his own child.Act II, Scene II, The Merchant of Venice (1600)
There is no darkness, but ignorance. - William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night Quotes)
45
There is no darkness, but ignorance.Act IV, Scene II, Twelfth Night (1623)
46
The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.Act II, Scene II, Hamlet (1603)
47
Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honor far more precious-dear than life.Act V, Scene III, Troilus and Cressida (1609)
Let life be short; else shame will be too long. - William Shakespeare (Henry V Quotes)
48
Let life be short; else shame will be too long.Act IV, Scene V, Henry V (1599)
49
Virtue itself ‘scapes not calumnious strokes.Act I, Scene III, Hamlet (1603)
50
Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds.Sonnet CXVI (1609)
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. - William Shakespeare (Hamlet Quotes)
51
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.Act II, Scene II, Hamlet (1603)
52
Thy overflow of good converts to bad.Act V, Scene III, Richard II (1597)
53
Reputation is an idle and most false imposition: oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.Act II, Scene III, Othello (1622)
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind. - William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream Quotes)
54
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.Act I, Scene I, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1600)
55
Men are April when they woo, December when they wed; maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives.Act IV, Scene I, As You Like It (1623)
56
Desire of having is the sin of covetousness.Act V, Scene I, Twelfth Night (1623)
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child! - William Shakespeare (King Lear Quotes)
57
How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!Act I, Scene IV, King Lear (1608)
58
The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope.Act III, Scene I, Measure for Measure (1623)
59
Love is too young to know what conscience is.Sonnet CLI (1609)
And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. - William Shakespeare (As You Like It Quotes)
60
And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.Act II, Scene I, As You Like It (1623)

No Source

1
Today I found this one. Honestly I don’t even understand it. And I am a father to a son.No source
2
Talking isn’t doing. It is a kind of good deed to say well; and yet words are not deeds.No source
3
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.No source
4
Children wish fathers looked but with their eyes; fathers that children with their judgment looked; and either may be wrong.No source

Misattributed

1
When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.Jewish proverb
2
The love of heaven makes one heavenly.Sir Philip Sidney ('The Old Arcadia,' The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia)