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Quotations from William Shakespeare

1564-1616

A dream itself is but a shadow.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

A little fire is quickly trodden out;
Which, being suffer'd, rivers cannot quench.

Clarence, in Henry VI Part 3, act 4, scene 8

A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.

Benedick, in Much Ado About Nothing, act 2, scene 3

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

Duke Senior, in As You Like It, act 2, scene 1

Any strange beast there makes a man. When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian.

Trinculo, in The Tempest, act 2, scene 2

Are there no stones in heaven
But what serve for the thunder?

Othello, in Othello, act 5, scene 2

As flies to wanton boys, are we to th’ gods;
They kill us for their sport.

Gloucester, in King Lear, act 4, scene 1

Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 3

Brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopt off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all, 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle, for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; who to disobey were against all proportion of subjection.

Michael Williams, in Henry V, act 4, scene 1

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the fraught bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?

Macbeth, in Macbeth, act 5, scene 3

Ceremony was but devised at first
To set a gloss on faint deeds, hollow welcomes,
Recanting goodness, sorry ere 'tis shown;
But where there is true friendship, there needs none.

Timon, in Timon of Athens, act 1, scene 2

Confess yourself to heaven;
Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;
And do not spread the compost on the weeds
To make them ranker.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 4

Conscience is but a word that cowards use,
Devised at first to keep the strong in awe.

King Richard, in Richard III, act 5, scene 3

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

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 3

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.

Julius Caesar, in Julius Caesar, act 2, scene 2

Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are relieved,
Or not at all.

Claudius, in Hamlet, act 4, scene 3

Dost thou think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?

Sir Toby Belch, in Twelfth Night, act 2, scene 3

Few love to hear the sins they love to act.

Pericles, in Pericles, scene 1

For nothing can seem foul to those that win.

King Henry, in King Henry IV, part 1, act 5, scene 1

For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently.

Leonato, in Much Ado About Nothing, act 5, scene 1

For we which now behold these present days
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.

Sonnet 106

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

Give every man thine ear but few thy voice.
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 3

Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar but by no means vulgar.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 3

God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my King, He would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.

Cardinal Wolsey, in Henry VIII, act 3, scene 2

He jests at scars that never felt a wound.

Romeo, in Romeo and Juliet, act 2, scene 1

He receives comfort like cold porridge.

Sebastian, in The Tempest, act 2, scene 1

He that dies pays all debts.

Stephano, in The Tempest, act 3, scene 2

He that is giddy thinks the world turns round.

The Widow, in The Taming of the Shrew, act 5, scene 2

He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.

Julius Caesar, in Julius Caesar, act 1, scene 2

How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
Makes deeds ill done!

King John, in King John, act 4, scene 2

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 2

I am a man more sinned against than sinning.

Lear, in King Lear, act 3, scene 2

I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

I do desire we may be better strangers.

Orlando, in As You Like It, act 3, scene 2

I had most need of blessing, and “Amen”
Stuck in my throat.

Macbeth, in Macbeth, act 2, scene 2

I have touched the highest point of all my greatness,
And from that full meridian of my glory
I haste now to my setting.

Cardinal Wolsey, in King Henry VIII, act 3, scene 2

I know love is begun by time,
And that I see, in passages of proof,
Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.

Claudius, in Hamlet, act 4, scene 6

I would there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.

Shepherd, in The Winter’s Tale, act 3, scene 3

If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work.

Prince Harry, in Henry IV, Part 1, act 1, scene 2

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 revenge?

Shylock, in The Merchant of Venice, act 3, scene 1

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.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

It is a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 4

It is a wise father that knows his own child.

Launcelot, in The Merchant of Venice, act 2, scene 2

It is as proper to our age
To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions
As it is common for the younger sort
To lack discretion.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 1

It is the bright day that brings forth the adder,
And that craves wary walking.

Brutus, in Julius Caesar, act 2, scene 1

Let every eye negotiate for itself,
And trust no agent.

Claudio, in Much Ado About Nothing, act 2, scene 1

Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 5, scene 1

Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls.

King Richard, in Richard III, act 5, scene 3

Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.

Louis the Dauphin, in King John, act 3, scene 4

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.

Macbeth, in Macbeth, act 5, scene 5

Lord, Lord, how subject we old men are to this vice of lying!

Falstaff, in King Henry IV, Part 2, act 3, scene 2

Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.

Claudius, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

Man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur'd,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep.

Isabella, in Measure for Measure, act 2, scene 2

Men's evil manners live in brass, their virtues
We write in water.

Griffith, in King Henry VIII, act 4, scene 2

Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.

Prince Escalus, in Romeo and Juliet, act 3, scene 1

Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has; but I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit.

Sir Andrew Aguecheek, in Twelfth Night, act 1, scene 3

Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.

Trinculo, in The Tempest, act 2, scene 2

Much is the force of heaven-bred poesy.

The Duke of Milan, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 3, scene 2

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

Claudius, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 3

Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 3

Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme.

Sonnet 55

O mischief, thou art swift
To enter in the thoughts of desperate men!

Romeo, in Romeo and Juliet, act 5, scene 1

O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 2

O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.

Isabella, in Measure for Measure, act 2, scene 2

Our indiscretion sometime serves us well
When our deep plots do pall; and that should learn us
There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 5, scene 2

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to heaven.

Helena, in All’s Well That Ends Well, act 1, scene 1

Present mirth hath present laughter
What’s to come is still unsure.

Feste, in Twelfth Night, act 2, scene 3

Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour's at the stake.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 4, scene 4

Since no man knows aught of what he leaves, what is't to leave betimes?

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 5, scene 2

So oft it chances in particular men
That, for some vicious mole of nature in them...
Their virtues else- be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo-
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 4

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.

Malvolio, in Twelfth Night, act 2, scene 5

Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.

Albany, in King Lear, act 1, scene 4

Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason
To fust in us unused.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 4, scene 4

Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

Duke Senior, in As You Like It, act 2, scene 1

That we would do,
We should do when we would; for this 'would' changes,
And hath abatements and delays as many
As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents.

Claudius, in Hamlet, act 4, scene 6

That which in mean men we entitle patience
Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts.

Duchess of Gloucester, in Richard II, act 1, scene 2

The course of true love never did run smooth.

Lysander, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, act 1, scene 1

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

Antonio, in The Merchant of Venice, act 1, scene 3

The dread of something after death-
The undiscovered 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.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

The dullness of the fool is the whetstone of the wits.

Celia, in As You Like It, act 1, scene 2

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones.

Mark Antony, in Julius Caesar, act 3, scene 2

The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was.

Bottom, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, act 4 scene 1

The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched unfledged comrade.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 3

The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman.

Edgar, in King Lear, act 3, scene 4

The time is out of joint. O cursed spite
That ever I was born to set it right!

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 4

The whirligig of time brings in his revenges.

Feste, in Twelfth Night, act 5, scene 1

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

Brutus, in Julius Caesar, act 4, scene 2

There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

There lives within the very flame of love
A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it.

Claudius, in Hamlet, act 4, scene 6

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.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 3

This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire- why, it appeareth no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

This is the excellent foppery of the world: that when we are sick in fortune -- often the surfeits of our own behaviour -- we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence. ... An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star!

Edmond, in King Lear, act 1, scene 2

Thou know'st 'tis common. All that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

Gertrude, in Hamlet, act 1, scene 2

Thou wouldst as soon go kindle fire with snow
As seek to quench the fire of love with words.

Julia, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 2, scene 7

Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

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,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

To be, or not to be- that is the question:
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.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

To business that we love we rise betime,
And go to’t with delight.

Antony, in Antony and Cleopatra, act 4, scene 4

To expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night is night, and time is time.
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

To say the truth, reason and love keep little company together now-a-days.

Bottom, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, act 3, scene 1

To the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.

Ophelia, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

King Henry, in Henry IV, Part 2, act 3, scene 1

Use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either master the devil, or throw him out
With wondrous potency.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 4

Use every man after his desert, and who should scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Prospero, in The Tempest, act 4, scene 1

We defy augury. There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 5, scene 2

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

Ophelia, in Hamlet, act 4, scene 5

We waste our lights in vain, like lamps by day.

Mercutio, in Romeo and Juliet, act 1, scene 4

We were not born to sue, but to command.

King Richard, in Richard II, act 1, scene 1

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, 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?

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2

What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 4, scene 4

What should such fellows as I do, crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us.

Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

What's in a name! that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, act 2 scene 1

When sorrows come they come not single spies,
But in battalions.

Claudius, in Hamlet, act 4, scene 5

Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come. Make her laugh at that.

Hamlet contemplating Yorick's skull, in Hamlet, act 5, scene 1

With devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The Devil himself.

Polonius, in Hamlet, act 3, scene 1

You take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live.

Shylock, in The Merchant of Venice, act 4, scene 1



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