William Shakespeare is one of the greatest exponents of dramaturgy worldwide. His works have been translated and performed all over the world and have served as a source of inspiration for the collective imagination.
Tragedies like “Romeo and Juliet”, “Hamlet”, “Othello” or “Macbeth” or comedies like “The Merchant of Venice” or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are some of his most popular plays. He also wrote great poems, such as “The Rape of Lucretia” or “Venus and Adonis”.
Throughout his work, this author, playwright and poet has left great phrases for the memory of very diverse themes, dealing with aspects such as love, passion, deceit, betrayal or loyalty.
In this article you will find the best quotes of William Shakespeare .
Shakespeare’s Great Sentences
Below are a series of quotes and phrases from William Shakespeare on the various themes that were dealt with throughout his work.
To be or not to be, that is the question
This famous line from Hamlet questions existence, who we are and what we do, and whether we should submit or fight, live or die.
2. When I saw you I fell in love and you smiled because you knew it
This phrase speaks to us of love at first sight, as well as the perception of others of our feelings towards them.
3. Thus, O conscience, of us all you make cowards, and the original ardent resolution decays to the pale gaze of thought
Doubt, insecurity and too much reflection make our purposes and will to act diminish to the point of being able to abandon our initial intention.
4. The friends you have and whose friendship you have already tested, hook them to your soul with steel hooks
Those who are by your side in good times and bad, those who are there when you need them, are truly worthy of our appreciation and attention. It is these people who deserve our affection.
5. Life is a story told by an idiot, a story full of noise and fury, which means nothing
This sentence reflects that the story of our life can only be told by ourselves , without it having any meaning or sense.
6. It is better to be king of your silence than slave of your words
We must be aware of what we decide, since it has an effect on others and can also be distorted or even used against us.
7. There are more things in heaven and on earth, Horace, than all that your philosophy can dream of
No matter what we explore or imagine, there will always be new things to explore and discover, new things to dream about or new ways to interpret them. Moreover, what one is able to see does not have to coincide with what another perceives.
8. The sage does not sit down to lament, but rather joyfully sets about his task of repairing the damage done
Regret is useless. Someone wise will take advantage of it to solve problems and at the same time learn from what happened.
9. In our crazy attempts, we give up what we are for what we hope to be
This sentence reflects that although it may seem crazy, we must move forward without accommodation if we want to achieve our dreams.
10. There is nothing good or bad, thought makes it so
This phrase reflects that the concepts of good and evil are subjective constructs, which can be used differently by different people. Things are, and then we interpret them according to whether they are beneficial or harmful.
11. Fate is the one who shuffles the cards, but we are the ones who play
Although we cannot control what happens to us, we can manage how we react, what we do with it, or what choices we make based on it. We decide our own path among the options available to us.
12. Do not try to guide the one who intends to choose his own path
Everyone has their own opinions and ways of seeing and arriving at the future they want to achieve. Trying to lead you to another path without it being desired is counterproductive for both of you.
13. Lend your ear to all, and your voice to few. Listen to others’ criticisms; but reserve your own opinion
In this sentence the playwright reflects the need to take into account other people’s perspectives , as well as recommending caution when giving an opinion.
14. It is not enough to lift the weak, you have to hold them afterwards
Helping involves more than just making a simple gesture of support. It is not a temporary support but a real contribution to help the person helped maintain a state that will not allow him/her to fall again.
15. The ruined man reads his condition in the eyes of others so quickly that he feels his fall
People tend to project their own state onto others and to interpret events in a way that coincides with that projection.
16. I would be very unhappy if I could say how happy I am
Happiness is a spontaneous and uncontrolled state. If we can stop and think about how happy we are it will be that we are not focused on the sensations that make us happy in themselves.
17. If the whole year were a holiday, having fun would be more boring than working
We enjoy breaking the routine and doing something we like that we don’t do often. If we get used to something it ends up becoming routine and losing its value as a booster to a greater or lesser extent.
18. Love is a madman so loyal, that in everything you do, whatever it may be, it finds no evil
Love can cause anything we do or suffer not to be perceived as evil, being blind.
19. First of all, be true to yourself. And so, as surely as night follows day, you will find that you cannot lie to anyone
We have to be honest with ourselves and act according to our thoughts, beliefs and desires.
20. At birth, we cry because we enter this vast asylum
The world is cruel and chaotic, something we must face from birth to burial.
21. The wounds that are not seen are the deepest
Psychic pain and traumas are not usually seen from the outside, but they are the ones that cause the most suffering and generally the ones that most disable and persist over time.
22. In one minute there are many days
Our perception of time can vary enormously depending on what we do and how we feel. Whereas if we are happy time passes quickly, suffering and waiting make it seem eternal.
23. The worst sin towards our fellow men is not to hate them, but to treat them with indifference; this is the essence of humanity
Indifference means that we don’t care about the other or even that we don’t recognize their existence, while other feelings, however negative, imply that the other is recognized as a living being.
24. We know what we are, but not what we can become
While what and how we are today may be known, we cannot determine how or what we will end up doing with our lives since our views or our situation may change at any time.
25. We have come into this world as brothers; let us therefore walk hand in hand and face each other
This sentence proposes to help, guide and respect each other.
26. Time does not go back, so plant your garden and decorate your soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
We may not get what we want no matter how much we do, but if we don’t do anything we don’t stand a chance and we’re just wasting our time.
27. To keep something to help me remember you would be to admit that I can forget you
If we care about someone, what we have to value is what we live with. The memories. But if we need something to remind us of them, it’s because we may be afraid we won’t be able to remember them.
- You might be interested in: “Types of memory: how does the human brain store memories?”
28. There are smiles that hurt like daggers
False smiles, self-serving smiles, smiles that hide things, or smiles that make fun of someone can cause great harm, especially if they come from someone valued or loved.
29. There is nothing so common as the desire to be praised
The human being often has the need to be recognized, and praise is a way to feed the self-esteem and self-concept of others. Also, on the other hand, vanity.
30. We are made of the same stuff as dreams and our little life ends up sleeping
A reflection on the link between living and dreaming.
31. If you want to climb steep slopes, you need to walk slowly at first
In order to achieve great objectives it is necessary to go step by step , so that we can go the long way necessary to achieve them.
32. He who goes too fast comes as late as he who goes too slow
While we must act, rushing too much will cause us to make mistakes and waste time and resources in ways that may be as inefficient as taking too long to act.
33. The past is a prologue
The past is important, but it has already happened. It is only a precedent of what we live now and what we will live later.
34. Loyalty has a peaceful heart
Those who are loyal do not have to worry about remorse or the machinations and worries of those who betray.
35. The exterior aspect often proclaims the interior condition of man
Our image, as a way of presenting ourselves to the world, often reflects different aspects of our inner world.
36. There is more danger to me in your eyes than in facing twenty naked swords
Love for someone can make us act in unsuspected ways . The person loved, what they think or feel, do or don’t do, is always something important to us and to what we are vulnerable.
37. Before I touch your lips I want to touch your heart, and before I conquer your body I want to conquer your love
This phrase from Romeo and Juliet reflects the desire to be reciprocated in the affective.
38. Improvisations are better when they are prepared
While improvisation can provide a solution to a given problem, it is necessary to know when it is necessary to do so.
39. Grief, more than cordial, is a corrosive for evils that have no cure
Pity, though it may seem well-intentioned, is a harm to the one who causes it that is added to the very element that makes it feel.
40. I know of a thousand illustrious men who have flattered the people without ever making themselves loved by them, and of a thousand others whom the people have loved without explaining to themselves why
The affection that people arouse does not have to derive from their actions, it can be due to various causes such as identification with them, their deep motivations or their way of proceeding. Furthermore, affection cannot be bought or forced .
41. Cowards die many times before their true death; the brave taste death only once
The one who does not dare to live is limited to surviving and is constantly frustrated, while the one who acts will manage to live a more or less full life.
42. Learning is simply an appendage of ourselves; wherever we are is also our learning
What we learn throughout life is always with us, allowing us to act or have more resources to face new or known situations.
- You might be interested in: “The 13 types of learning: what are they?”
43. Anyone can master a suffering, except the one who feels it
It can be easy to give advice, and most people seem to think that other people’s problems can be better handled or solved mostly with simplicity, but they are not able to see the totality of aspects that affect the situation of the person who is suffering from it. The sufferer may not be able to overcome his or her condition.
44. Have more than you show; talk less than you know
In this sentence Shakspeare recommends prudence and discretion , so that we can have resources that others do not expect and we can resolve unforeseen situations.
45. He who takes away twenty years of life, takes away as many years of fear of death
Those who pretend to be younger than they are usually afraid of getting old and dying, a fear that can consume them more and more as time goes by.
46. Our doubts are traitors that make us lose what we could often gain by being afraid to try
Indecision and fear can lead us not to act, so that it becomes impossible to achieve what we could achieve if we had acted.
47. It is as impossible to fan the fire with snow as it is to put out the fire of love with words
Words are not enough to alter people’s feelings, especially when they are of great intensity. Feelings like love do not act logically or in a calculated and controlled way, but go beyond rationality.
48. Beware of the fire you light against your enemy, lest you scorch yourself
The actions of one person against another can be turned against the first with great ease, whether by the aggrieved person or by bystanders. For example, someone who tries to harm someone else’s image may end up making the tainted image his or her own by trying to harm others.
49. Clemency that forgives criminals is murder
This sentence indicates that not everything can be forgiven . Having compassion for someone who treats us badly will result in him having the opportunity to do it again and not learning from the consequences of his actions.
50. Old people distrust youth because they have been young
While it is not always true, generally the elderly have lived longer and had more experience than the young. They themselves have been, so they have an idea of what it means to be.
51. He who rises too close to the sun with wings of gold melts them
Based on the myth of Icarus, this sentence proposes that excessive ambition can degenerate into the perdition of all that one has.
52. Do not dirty the fountain where you have quenched your thirst
This phrase pushes us to be grateful and not to damage what we have leaned on or what has supported us to continue.
53. Gold, a poison more fatal to the souls of men and causing more deaths in this abominable world than any forbidden poison
Greed and money are aspects that have motivated human beings to cause great misfortunes in order to benefit themselves.
54. Everyone loves life, but the brave and honest man appreciates honor more
The word given and loyalty to what we believe are fundamental elements that can sometimes be put above even one’s own survival.
55. Anger is a fiery horse; if it is given free rein it soon runs out of steam
Rage and anger are emotions that arise in an explosive way but are often short-lived if allowed to express themselves.
56. Losing sleep, which weeds out the intricate web of pain; sleep, rest from all fatigue, food the sweetest that is served at the table of life
This phrase, is part of the plot of Macbeth , reflects the need for rest as a pleasure and an element that allows us to avoid pain.
57. Violent pleasures end in violence and have in their triumph their own death, just as fire and gunpowder are consumed in a voracious kiss
What is achieved with violence ends with violence.
58. A person does not deserve to like honey who moves away from the hive because the bees have a sting
This phrase speaks of the need to have courage to pursue one’s dreams. If we do not dare for fear of the consequences we will not deserve to achieve them by not taking risks for them.
59. Strong reasons, make strong actions
The greatest actions come from intense motivations.
60. Curses never go beyond the lips that utter them
Just because someone wishes us ill doesn’t have to affect us. It is the one who wishes others ill who will experience discomfort.
61. The man who is not moved by the chord of harmonious sounds is capable of all kinds of betrayals, stratagems, and depravations
Art has always been linked to emotion . Being able to be moved by a song implies that there is a certain level of sensitivity, of seeing the good and beautiful in life and in others.
62. Laughs at scars who have never felt a wound
Experiencing something gives us a better understanding of what it involves, while those who have never experienced it may have a lesser capacity to understand what that something entails,
63. Fear not greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness imposed upon them, and some have greatness left
Greatness is an abstract concept that may or may not reach us, but it should not be feared in others or in oneself.
64. Hell is empty, all the demons are here
This sentence reflects that evil and good are concepts created by human beings . It reflects the cruelty and greed prevailing in part of society.
65. It is very poor love that can be evaluated
As with happiness, this phrase indicates that if we are able to evaluate something it means that we can see it from the outside. In other words, we have stopped feeling it subjectively.
66. I wasted my time and now time is wasting me
Our life is not infinite. This sentence does not encourage us to use our time properly before it is too late.
67. O mighty love! Which sometimes makes a beast a man, and sometimes makes a man a beast
Love can change us greatly, making us capable of the greatest deeds or the worst atrocities.
68. If you don’t remember the slightest madness that love made you fall into, you haven’t loved
Love causes us to be irrational and do things we would not normally do, just to get close to the person we love.
69. Virtue itself cannot escape the blows of slander
Everything we do or even think is interpretable and subject to the opinion and criticism of others, however just and noble the act itself may be.
70. Even virtue itself becomes a vice when misapplied
While things may have a positive and well-intentioned origin, they can lead to acts that are the opposite of what they should be if they are mishandled. For example, distorted virtue can lead to intolerance, as well as distorted love to possessiveness.
71. Give word to the pain: the pain that does not speak groans in the heart until it breaks it
This sentence indicates the importance of expressing suffering and not keeping it to oneself, as it is tremendously harmful, does not allow the situation to be fixed and can cause frustration in the long term.
72. It’s great to have the strength of a giant, but to use it as a giant is like a tyrant
Power itself is not evil, but it must be applied fairly or it will become abusive and tyrannical.
73. Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt that the sun is moving, doubt that the truth is a lie, but never doubt that I love you
A beautiful phrase that expresses the truthfulness of love for the loved one even though everything else may be a lie.
74. The greater the talent, in women, the greater the indocility
A reflection that some may consider somewhat sexist.
75. It is easier to get what you want with a smile than with the tip of a sword
Good manners can take you further than the threat.
76. No one admires celerity, except the negligent
On speed, which is often at odds with quality.
77. Keeping something to help me remember you would be admitting that I can forget you
There are memories that go beyond the material.
78. Sweet piety is the symbol of true greatness
A magnanimous being always acts with mercy.
79. Do not trust those who have lost their faith
If there’s nothing to hold on to, there’s nothing to trust.
80. Words are full of falsehood or art; the look is the language of the heart
The look rarely deceives.
81. One can smile and smile, being an infamous
Excerpt from Hamlet. Sometimes, human beings can be the opposite of what they show.
82. He who likes to be flattered is worthy of the flatterer
Neither attitude nor attitude is virtuous, according to Shakespeare.
83. Lightness like air is for the zealous a strong confirmation, as a testimony of the sacred scriptures
Any detail can be misinterpreted if we have the cognitive bias of compulsive jealousy.
84. No legacy is as rich as honesty
Nothing is more valuable than being honest and upstanding in everything we do.
85. Assume a virtue if you don’t have one
Everything can be learned.
86. Let your eyes go free: see other beauties
Extract from Romeo and Juliet.
87. Words without affection will never reach the ears of God
Everything we do without emotion is soulless.
88. I could be locked in a nutshell and feel like a king of infinite space
Little piece of Hamlet. Sometimes freedom is a product of our psyche.
89. The love of the young is not in the heart, but in the eyes
Another excerpt from Romeo and Juliet. It probably alludes to the carnal passion that floods the loves of youth.
90. If money goes before, all roads open up
Unfortunately, money is the language that everyone understands.