Shakespeare's most memorable quotes

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Despite the fact that his plays were written 400 years ago, there’s still a lot we can learn from William Shakespeare. From affairs of the heart to the meaning of life, The Bard covered it all in his body of work. This, coupled with his influence on the English language (if you’ve ever used the phrases “it’s all Greek to me”, “wild goose chase” or “the game is up”, you have Shakespeare to thank), makes the playwrite as relevant today as ever.

We’ve put together the most memorable, iconic and quoted lines from his plays and poetry below, from classics such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet through to lesser known plays such as Love’s Labours Lost and Measure For Measure.

What’s your all-time favourite Shakespeare quote? Perhaps it didn’t make our list? Either way, share your thoughts in the comments section below or on Twitter @StylistMagazine.

  • Hamlet

    “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend.”

    Act 1, Scene 3

    “The play ‘s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”

    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”

    Act 3, Scene 1

    “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a thousand times, and now how abhorr’d in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it..”

    Act 5, Scene 1

  • A Midsummer Night's Dream

    “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

    Act 1, Scene 1

    “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind”

    Act 1, Scene 1

    “My Oberon! What visions have I seen! Methought I was enamoured of an ass.”

    Act 4, Scene 1

  • Twelfth Night

    “If music be the food of love, play on.”

    Act 1, Scene 1

    “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

    Act 2, Scene 5

    “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.”

    Act 3 Scene 1

  • As You Like It

    “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.”

    Act 2, Scene 7

    “Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?“

    Act 3, Scene 5

    “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

    Act 5, Scene 1

  • The Merchant of Venice

    “Love is blind, and lovers cannot see, The pretty follies that themselves commit.”

    Act 2, Scene 6

    “All that glisters is not gold.”

    Act 2, Scene 7

  • Much Ado About Nothing

    “When you depart from me sorrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.”

    Act 1, Scene 1

    “Everyone can master a grief but he that has it”

    Act 3, Scene 2

  • Romeo and Juliet

    “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”

    Act 2, Scene 1

    “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

    Act 2, Scene 1

    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet”

    Act 2, Scene 2

  • Henry V

    "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, Or close the wall up with our English dead!"

    Act 3, Scene 1

  • Macbeth

    “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”

    Act 4, Scene 1

    “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, signifying nothing.”

    Act 5, Scene 5

  • Sonnet 18

    "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? 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"

  • Richard II

    "This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war"

    Act 2 , Scene 1

  • Richard III

    “Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York”

    Act 1, Scene 1

    “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

    Act 5, Scene 4

  • Love's Labour's Lost

    "They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps."

    Act 5, Scene 1

  • The Tempest

    “Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made; Those are pearls that were his eyes: Nothing of him that doth fade ; But doth suffer a sea-change; Into something rich and strange.”

    Act 1, Scene 2

    “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”

    Act 2, Scene 2

  • Measure for Measure

    “Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall”

    Act 2, Scene 1

    “The miserable have no other medicine but only hope”

    Act 3, Scene 1

    “What’s mine is yours, and what is yours is mine.”

    Act 5, Scene 1

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor

    "Why, then the world's mine oyster, Which I with sword will open."

    Act 2, Scene 2

  • Othello

    "I will wear my heart upon my sleeve; For daws to peck at."

    Act 1, Scene 1

  • Julius Caesar

    “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”

    Act 2, Scene 2

    “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff”

    Act 3, Scene 2

  • Anthony and Cleopatra

    "My salad days, When I was green in judgment: cold in blood, To say as I said then! But, come, away; Get me ink and paper: He shall have every day a several greeting, Or I'll unpeople Egypt."

    Act 1, Scene 5

  • Henry IV, Part II

    "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown"

    Act 3, Scene 1

  • King Lear

    "The worst is not, So long as we can say, 'This is the worst.'"

    Act 4, Scene 1

Covers: Penguin

Main Image: Unsplash

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