Life lessons from William Shakespeare

19 April 2016

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

On wisdom . . .
‘The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.’
As You Like It, Act V, Scene I
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.’
Hamlet, Act I, Scene III
On selfishness . . .
‘Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin,
as self-neglecting.’

Henry V, Act II, Scene III
On strength  . . .
‘O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.’

Measure For Measure, Act II, Scene II
On happiness . . .
'Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.'
Troilus and Cressida, Act I, Scene I
On doubt . . .
‘Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt.’

Measure for Measure, Act I, Scene IV
On greatness . . .
'Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.'
Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene V
On intelligence . . .
‘There's many a man has more hair than wit.’

The Comedy Of Errors, Act II, Scene II
On lateness . . .
‘Better three hours too soon than a minute late.’
The Merry Wives Of Windsor, Act II, Scene II
On love . . .
‘But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit.’
The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene VI
On risk-taking . . .
‘The better part of valour is discretion’
Henry VI, Part I, Act V, Scene IV
On people  . . .
‘Love all, trust a few,
Do wrong to none’

All’s Well that Ends Well, Act I, Scene I
On entertaining . . .
'Good company, good wine, good welcome can make good people'

Henry VIII, Act I, Scene 4
On fate . . .
‘Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.’

Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II
On biscuits . . .
‘Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage.’
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

Want to brush up on your Shakespeare knowledge? Jonathan Bate’s classic biography of the life – and afterlife – of the greatest English poet, The Genius of Shakespeare is out now. The new Picador Classic edition includes an introduction from Simon Callow.  

Take a look at our round-up of the most spectacular, fascinating and unusual ways to celebrate Shakespeare this year here

The Genius of Shakespeare

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