Best Shakespeare quotes for modern life

It may be over 400 years since his death but The Bard has still got a thing or two to teach you. Here are some of our favourite quotes from Shakespeare on love, happiness and feminism.

5 minutes to read

There’s a Shakespeare quote for every situation that life may throw at you. Whether you’re struggling to find your purpose in life or you’re just jealous of your ex’s new girlfriend, the sticky situations Shakespeare’s characters find themselves in are highly relatable. Here are our favourite 16th century quotes that relate to our 21st century problems.

Shakespeare on self-love

This above all: to thine own self be true.
Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.
Henry V

Shakespeare on overthinking

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so
Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win, By fearing to attempt.
Measure for Measure

Shakespeare on love

I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange?
Much Ado About Nothing
But love is blind, and lovers cannot see.
Merchant of Venice
The course of true love never did run smooth.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
 Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare on life

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest

Shakespeare on purpose

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.
We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

Shakespeare on aspiration

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them’
Twelfth Night
Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour As thou are in desire?

Shakespeare on jealousy

How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes!
As You Like It
As, I confess, it is my nature's plague To spy into abuses, and oft my jealousy Shapes faults that are not.

Shakespeare on Brexit

The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch
King Richard III

Shakespeare on entertaining

Good company, good wine, good welcome can make good people
Henry VIII

Shakespeare on being late

Better three hours too soon than a minute late.
The Merry Wives Of Windsor

Shakespeare on feminism

If I be waspish, best beware of my sting
As You Like It
Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak.
As You Like It

Shakespeare on the environment

Diseased Nature oftentimes breaks forth In strange eruptions.
Henry IV
The spring, the summer, The childing autumn, angry winter, change Their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world By their increase now knows not which is which.
A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream

Shakespeare on power

O, it is excellent To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant.
Measure For Measure

Shakespeare on fashion

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy, For the apparel oft proclaims the man.

In this episode of Book Break, Emma finds that there is a Shakespeare poem for every mood.

Guest host Olivia shares some unpopular Shakespeare opinions in this episode of Book Break: