27 Famous Shakespeare Quotes on Life, Love and Beyond

, Staff Writer
Updated February 25, 2022
famous shakespeare quote
    famous shakespeare quote
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    Used under Getty Images license

Possibly the most quoted writer in history, William Shakespeare had a unique ability to spin words together in beautiful ways — even when his characters were making terrible life choices. From birthday cards to graduation speeches, there’s a William Shakespeare quote for every occasion.

Legendary Love Quotes From William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare's romantic language and poetry have been making lovers swoon for over 400 years. Romantic comedies may be a fun Valentine's Day date, but how many romcom quotes do you know that have endured that long?

  • "The course of true love never did run smooth." - A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act I, scene 1

  • "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind." - A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act I, scene 1

  • “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.” - Twelfth Night: Act III, scene 1

  • “For where thou art, there is the world itself, with every several pleasure in the world; and where though art not, desolation.” - Henry VI, Part II: Act III, scene 2

  • “But love is blind and lovers cannot see / The pretty follies that themselves commit.” - The Merchant of Venice: Act II, scene 6

  • “My love as deep; the more I give to thee / The more I have, for both are infinite.” - Romeo and Juliet: Act II, scene 2

  • “Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?” - As You Like It: Act III, scene 5

  • “Hear my soul speak: / The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service.” - The Tempest: Act III, scene 1


Laudable William Shakespeare Quotes About Life

While Shakespeare’s characters may not navigate life decisions very well, we can take lessons from their (many) mistakes. Just a few quotes from selected works may be enough to guide you in the right direction.

  • "All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players.” - As You Like It: Act II, scene 7

  • "This above all: to thine own self be true.” - Hamlet: Act I, scene 2

  • "For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - Hamlet: Act II, scene 2

  • "To be, or not to be, that is the question.” - Hamlet: Act III, scene 1

  • “All that glisters is not gold." - The Merchant of Venice: Act II, scene 7

  • "It's not enough to speak, but to speak true." A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act V, scene 1

  • “Be not afraid of greatness: twas well writ. / Some are born great,— / Some achieve greatness,— / And some have greatness thrust upon them.” - Twelfth Night: Act II, scene 4


Fabulous William Shakespeare Quotes About Friendship

Just behind love, life and very complex revenge plots, Shakespearean characters value friendship. These quotable utterances make great foundations for any pair of friends, no matter the century.

  • “Friendship is constant in all other things / Save in the office and affairs of love.” - Much Ado About Nothing: Act II, scene 1

  • "Neither a borrower nor a lender be; / For loan oft loses both itself and friend." - Hamlet: Act I, scene 3

  • “I would not wish, / Any companion in the world but you.” - The Tempest: Act III, scene 1

  • “I count myself in nothing else so happy / As in a soul remembering my good friends.” - Richard II: Act II, scene 3

  • “That which I would discover / The law of friendship bids me to conceal.” - The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Act III, scene 1

  • “A friend should bear his friend's infirmities.” - Julius Caesar: Act IV, scene 3


Dark Quotes on Death by William Shakespeare

Tombstone in forest with Shakespeare quote
    Tombstone in forest with Shakespeare quote
    azerberber / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

While Shakespeare’s comedies end in laughter (and weddings), his tragedies are often marred by deaths. Whether a character is foreshadowing their own demise or discussing the loss of another, there are many opportunities for a more morbid reflection.

  • "Cowards die many times before their deaths; / the valiant never taste of death but once." - The Life and Death of Julius Caesar: Act II, scene 2

  • "A man can die but once." Henry IV, Part 2: Act III, scene 2

  • "Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die, / Passing through nature to eternity." - Hamlet: Act I, scene 2

  • "Death lies on her like an untimely frost / Upon the sweetest flower of all the field." - Romeo and Juliet: Act IV, scene 5

  • "Everyone can master a grief but he that has it." - Much Ado About Nothing: Act III, scene 2

  • “And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!” - Macbeth: Act V, scene 5


My Kingdom For a Quote

The wide-ranging variety of Shakespeare’s work has a quote for any occasion — especially if you fall in love immediately upon meeting someone or have a sworn duty to avenge your father. For more Shakespeare sass, check out: