William Shakespeare / 1564–1616 / England / Playwright, Poet
All the World’s a Stage
. . . All the world’s a stage,As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII; Jaques.
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances . . .
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt beMacbeth, Act I, Scene V; Lady Macbeth.
What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it: what thou wouldst highly,
That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
And yet wouldst wrongly win . . .
Band of Brothers
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,Henry V, Act IV, Scene III; King Henry V.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
By the pricking of my thumbs,Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I; Second Witch.
something wicked this way comes.
Yet here’s a spot. . . .
Out, damned spot! out, I say!–One: two: why,
then, ’tis time to do’t.–Hell is murky!–Fie, my
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?–Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him. . . .
Here’s the smell of the blood still: all theMacbeth, Act V, Scene I; Lady Macbeth.
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
hand. Oh, oh, oh!
Whence is that knocking?Macbeth, Act II, Scene II; Macbeth.
How is’t with me, when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene II; Antony.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Cowards die many times before their deaths;Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene II; Caesar.
The valiant never taste of death but once.
I am settled, and bend upMacbeth, Act I, Scene VII; Macbeth.
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow worldJulius Caesar, Act I, Scene II; Cassius.
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
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.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;Hamlet, Act I, Scene III; Polonius.
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,Hamlet, Act I, Scene III; Polonius.
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
. . . be not afraid of greatness: someTwelfth Night, Act II, Scene V; Malvolio.
are born great, some achieve greatness, and some
have greatness thrust upon ’em. . . .
. . . use every manHamlet, Act II, Scene II; Hamlet.
after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.Henry IV, Part II, Act III, Scene I; King Henry IV.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?Sonnet 18.
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And too often is his gold complexion dimm’d:
And every fair from fair sometimes declines,
By chance or natures changing course untrimm’d;
By thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act I, Scene I; Helena.
And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind.
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene V; Romeo.
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,
As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.
If music be the food of love, play on.Twelfth Night, Act I, Scene I; Duke Orsino.
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,Sonnet 29.
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Meaning of Life and Death
To be, or not to be, that is the question,Hamlet, Act III, Scene I; Hamlet.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought . . .
As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.King Lear, Act IV, Scene I; Gloucester.
They kill us for their sport.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,Macbeth, Act V, Scene V; Macbeth.
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
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,
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I; Portia.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself . . .
A Plague on Both Your Houses
. . . A plague o’ both your houses!Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene I; Mercutio.
They have made worms’ meat of me . . .
Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!Romeo and Juliet, Act V, Scene III; Prince.
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
And I for winking at your discords too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish’d.
. . . for there is nothingHamlet, Act II, Scene II; Hamlet
either good or bad, but thinking makes it so . . .
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II; Juliet.
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy:
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand nor foot
Nor arm nor face nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O be some other name.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
Methought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep,” the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast, . . .
Still it cried “Sleep no more!” to all the house:Macbeth, Act II, Scene II; Macbeth.
“Glamis hath murder’d sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.”
Unity of Humanity
. . . I am a Jew. HathThe Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene I; Shylock.
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
What a Piece of Work is Man
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!Hamlet, Act II, Scene II; Hamlet.
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me . . .
We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.Henry IV, Part II, Act III, Scene II; Falstaff.