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Shakespeare: A Book of Quotations

Shakespeare: A Book of Quotations

by William Shakespeare


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Shakespeare is without doubt the most quoted writer in English. His plays and poems comprise an inexhaustible source of memorable and often profound thoughts beautifully and concisely expressed. This remarkably affordable volume presents over 400 quotations conveniently arranged by topic: love, marriage, conduct and morality, truth, beauty, time, death, music, and more.
Included are such timeless observations as: "All that glitters is not gold," "Brevity is the soul of wit," "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is/ To have a thankless child"; "While you live, tell truth and shame the devil!"; "The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream," and many more. Romantic thoughts receive a particularly rich treatment; extensive selections on the subject of love include quotes from the plays ("The course of true love never did run smooth"; "Speak low if you speak love") and sonnets ("For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings,/ That then I scorn to change my state with kings"). Each quote bears a complete citation.
Ideal for writers, speakers, students of literature, and any lover of Shakespeare's works, this inexpensive treasury lends itself admirably to a virtually endless number of uses, from casual browsing to designing personal greeting cards.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486404356
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 06/10/1998
Series: Dover Thrift Editions
Pages: 64
Sales rank: 586,593
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

"He was not of an age, but for all time," declared Ben Jonson of his contemporary William Shakespeare (1564–1616). Jonson's praise is especially prescient, since at the turn of the 17th century Shakespeare was but one of many popular London playwrights and none of his dramas were printed in his lifetime. The reason so many of his works survive is because two of his actor friends, with the assistance of Jonson, assembled and published the First Folio edition of 1623.

Date of Death:


Place of Birth:

Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

Place of Death:

Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

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A Book of Quotations


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1998 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-11193-3



As many arrows, loosed several ways, come to one mark ... so may a thousand actions, once afoot, end in one purpose.

Henry V, Act I, sc. 2.

If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly.

Macbeth, Act I, sc. 7.

What's done cannot be undone.

Macbeth, Act V, sc. 1.


Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

As You Like It, Act II, sc. 1.

Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.

Henry VI, Part III, Act III, sc. 1.

A man I am cross'd with adversity.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act IV, sc. 1.


Young in limbs, in judgement old.

The Merchant of Venice, Act II, sc. 7.

My salad days, when I was green in judgement, cold in blood.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act I, sc. 5.

Let me not live, after my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff of younger spirits.

All's Well that Ends Well, Act I, sc. 2.

Crabbed age and youth cannot live together.

The Passionate Pilgrim.

You shall more command with years than with your weapons.

Othello, Act I, sc. 2.

An old man is twice a child.

Hamlet, Act II, sc. 2.

The old folk, time's doting chronicles.

Henry IV, Part II, Act IV, sc. 4.

My age is as a lusty winter, frosty, but kindly.

As You Like It, Act II, sc. 3.

Thou hast nor youth nor age, but, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep, dreaming on both.

Measure for Measure, Act III, sc. 1.


The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

Hamlet, Act II, sc. 2.

I hold ambition of so light a quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.

Hamlet, Act II, sc. 2.

Virtue is chok'd with foul ambition.

Henry VI, Part II, Act III, sc. 1.

I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself, and falls on the other.

Macbeth, Act I, sc. 7.

Lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend.

Julius Caesar, Act II, sc. 1.

Ambition, the soldier's virtue, rather makes choice of loss, than gain which darkens him.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act III, sc. 1.


All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told;
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.

The Merchant of Venice, Act II, sc. 7.

Ornament is but the gulled shore to a most dangerous sea.

The Merchant of Venice, Act III, sc. 2.

I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright, Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

Sonnet CXLVII.

O, what may man within him hide, though angel on the outward side!

Measure for Measure, Act III, sc. 2.

There is no vice so simple but assumes some mark of virtue on his outward parts.

The Merchant of Venice, Act III, sc. 2.

Was ever book containing such vile matter so fairly bound? O, that deceit should dwell in such a gorgeous palace!

Romeo and Juliet, Act III, sc. 2.

Fair is foul, and foul is fair.

Macbeth, Act I, sc. 1.

He takes false shadows for true substances.

Titus Andronicus, Act III, sc. 2.


Gardener, for telling me these news of woe, pray God the plants thou graft'st may never grow.

Richard II, Act III, sc. 4.

The nature of bad news infects the teller.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act I, sc. 2.

Though it be honest, it is never good to bring bad news: give to a gracious message an host of tongues; but let ill tidings tell themselves when they be felt.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, sc. 5.


Look on beauty, and you shall see 'tis purchased by the weight.

The Merchant of Venice, Act III, sc. 2.

Beauty is but a vain and doubtful good;
A shining gloss that vadeth suddenly;
A flower that dies when first it 'gins to bud;
A brittle glass that's broken presently:

A doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower, Lost, vaded, broken, dead within an hour.

The Passionate Pilgrim.

Show me a mistress that is passing fair, what doth her beauty serve but as a note where I may read who pass'd that passing fair?

Romeo and Juliet, Act I, sc. 1.

Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.

As You Like It, Act I, sc. 3.

'Tis beauty that doth oft make women proud; but, God He knows, thy share thereof is small.

Henry VI, Part III, Act 1, sc. 4.

Those that she makes fair she scarce makes honest; and those that she makes honest she makes very ill-favouredly.

As You Like It, Act I, sc. 2.

Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

Sonnet XCIV.

O, she is rich in beauty, only poor that, when she dies, with beauty dies her store.

Romeo and Juliet, Act I, sc. 1.

How much more doth beauty beauteous seem by that sweet ornament which truth doth give!

Sonnet LIV.


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

Hamlet, Act I, sc. 3.

But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we'll not fail.

Macbeth, Act I, sc. 7.

How far your eyes may pierce, I cannot tell; striving to better, oft we mar what's well.

King Lear, Act I, sc. 4.

I am a man more sinn'd against than sinning.

King Lear, Act III, sc. 2.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind! Thou art not so unkind as Man's ingratitude.

As You Like It, Act II, sc. 7.

Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.

Hamlet, Act III, sc. 1.

Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it?

Measure for Measure Act II, sc. 2.

Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.

Measure for Measure, Act II, sc. 1.

Trust not him that has once broken faith.

Henry VI, Part III, Act IV, sc. 4.

Vows were ever brokers to defiling.

A Lover's Complaint.

When he is best, he is a little worse than a man; and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.

The Merchant of Venice, Act I, sc. 2.

I am constant as the northern star, of whose true fix'd and resting quality there is no fellow in the firmament.

Julius Caesar, Act III, sc. 1.

How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

The Merchant of Venice, Act V, sc. 1.

No legacy is so rich as honesty.

All's Well that Ends Well, Act III, sc. 5.

My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, nor to one place.

The Merchant of Venice, Act I, sc. 1.

I must be cruel, only to be kind.

Hamlet, Act III, sc. 4.

Do not cast away an honest man for a villain's accusation.

Henry VI, Part II, Act I, sc. 3.

But to my mind, though I am native here and to the manner born, it is a custom more honour'd in the breach than the observance.

Hamlet, Act I, sc. 4.

Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.

Henry VIII, Act IV, sc. 2.

The common curse of mankind,—folly and ignorance.

Troilus and Cressida, Act II, sc. 2.

Foolery ... does walk about the orb like the sun; it shines everywhere.

Twelfth Night, Act III, sc. 1.

A stirring dwarf we do allowance give before a sleeping giant.

Troilus and Cressida, Act II, sc. 3.

He hath eaten me out of house and home.

Henry IV, Part II, Act II, sc. 1.

Purpose is but the slave to memory, of violent birth, but poor validity.

Hamlet, Act III, sc. 2.

Conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.

Hamlet, Act III, sc. 1.

I know myself now; and I feel within me a peace above all earthly dignities, a still and quiet conscience.

Henry VIII, Act III, sc. 2.

To do a great right, do a little wrong.

The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, sc. 1.


Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Cymbeline, Act IV, sc. 2.

A man can die but once.

Henry IV, Part II, Act III, sc. 2.

He that dies pays all debts.

The Tempest, Act III, sc. 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. To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache 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.

Hamlet, Act III, sc. 1.

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?

Hamlet, Act III, sc. 1.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
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.

Julius Caesar, Act III, sc. 2.

Ah, what a sign it is of evil life, where death's approach is seen so terrible!

Henry VI, Part II, Act III, sc. 3.

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

Julius Caesar, Act II, sc. 2.

When beggars die, there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.

Julius Caesar, Act II, sc. 2.

The sense of death is most in apprehension; and the poor beetle, that we tread upon, in corporal sufferance feels a pang as great as when a giant dies.

Measure for Measure, Act III, sc. 1.

When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night, and pay no worship to the garish sun.

Romeo and Juliet, Act III, sc. 2.

Blow, wind! come, wrack! At least we'll die with harness on our back.

Macbeth, Act V, sc. 5.


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.

Julius Caesar, Act I, sc. 2.

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport.

King Lear, Act IV, sc. 1.

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

Hamlet, Act IV, sc. 5.

The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices make instruments to plague us.

King Lear, Act V, sc. 3.

O fortune, fortune! all men call thee fickle.

Romeo and Juliet, Act III, sc. 5.

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

Twelfth Night, Act II, sc. 5.

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.

Julius Caesar, Act IV, sc. 3.

Things without all remedy should be without regard: what's done is done.

Macbeth, Act III, sc. 2.

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.

The Tempest, Act I, sc. 2.

A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

Hamlet, Act IV, sc. 3.

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

Hamlet, Act V, sc. 1.

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

All's Well that Ends Well, Act I, sc.l.

Though fortune's malice overthrow my state, my mind exceeds the compass of her wheel.

Henry VI, Part III, Act IV, sc. 3.

Fortune, that arrant whore, ne'er turns the key to the poor.

King Lear, Act II, sc. 4.


He must needs go that the devil drives.

All's Well that Ends Well, Act I, sc. 3.

He will give the devil his due.

Henry IV, Part I, Act I, sc. 2.

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

The Merchant of Venice, Act I, sc. 3.


O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!

Othello, Act II, sc. 3.

[Drink] provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.

Macbeth, Act II, sc. 3.

O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!

Othello, Act II, sc. 3.


To gild refined gold, to paint the lily ... is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

King John, Act IV, sc. 2.

They are as sick that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing.

The Merchant of Venice, Act I, sc. 2.

Can one desire too much of a good thing?

As You Like It, Act IV, sc. 1.

There's no bottom, none, in my voluptuousness: your wives, your daughters, your matrons and your maids, could not fill up the cistern of my lust.

Macbeth, Act IV, sc. 3.

Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak of one that loved not wisely but too well.

Othello, Act V, sc. 2.

Distribution should undo excess, and each man have enough.

King Lear, Act IV, sc. 1.


Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not express' d in fancy; rich, not gaudy; for the apparel oft proclaims the man.

Hamlet, Act I, sc. 3.

The glass of fashion and the mould of form.

Hamlet, Act III, sc. 1.

Thou art not for the fashion of these times, where none will sweat but for promotion.

As You Like It, Act II, sc. 3.

The fashion wears out more apparel than the man.

Much Ado about Nothing, Act III, sc. 3.


Best safety lies in fear.

Hamlet, Act I, sc. 3.

Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.

Macbeth, Act I, sc. 3.

In the night, imagining some fear, how easy is a bush suppos'd a bear!

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V, sc. 1.

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.

Measure for Measure, Act I, sc. 4.

His flight was madness: when our actions do not, our fears do make us traitors.

Macbeth, Act IV, sc. 2.

To fear the foe, since fear oppresseth strength, gives in your weakness strength unto your foe.

Richard II, Act III, sc. 2.


The quality of mercy is not strain'd, 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.

The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, sc. 1.

Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.

Titus Andronicus, Act I, sc. 1.

No ceremony that to great ones 'longs, not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword, the marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe, become them with one half so good a grace as mercy does.

Measure for Measure, Act II, sc. 2.

Mercy is not itself, that oft looks so.

Measure for Measure, Act II, sc. 1.

There is a devilish mercy in the judge, if you'll implore it, that will free your life, but fetter you till death.

Measure for Measure, Act III, sc. 1.

Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy.

Timon of Athens, Act III, sc. 5.

Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.

Romeo and Juliet, Act III, sc. 1.


Excerpted from Shakespeare by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. Copyright © 1998 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Bad News
Conduct and Morality
Fashion and Apparel
Human Conditon
Man and Woman
Nature and the Seasons

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