I say there is no darkness but ignorance. – William Shakespeare

Yesterday was  Shakespeare’s birthday, regarded to be the greatest writer of the English language. We studied his works in high school on to college. We loved his plays, modernized or otherwise. We basked in the words thee, thou en methinks. Shakespeare is so imbedded into our veins that I know no one who is literate in the English language who does not know at least one quote or line from him. Can’t think of anything? How about, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” from his play ‘Julius Ceasar’? Or try, “To be or not to be, that is the question” from his work ‘Hamlet’? Almost 400 years after his death, his works continued to be studied, awed upon and played.

His birthday reminded me of a play I saw years ago – “The Taming of the Shrew”. This is one of Shakespeare’s comedies which misogynistic elements have sparked many controversies. Nevertheless, it seems to appeal to these modern times where “battle of the sexes” is so popular that it has been adapted countless times in many different genres – on screen, for the opera, for the theatre. One of the most famous adaptations is the movie 10 Things I Hate About You.

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A quotes lover myself, his birthday (well, if he were alive, he would be 446 years old this year) also gave me a reason to bask in his famous lines. I have to admit that some of these I just learned yesterday. Here are just some of the ones I particularly developed a liking for:


“To be, or not to be: that is the question.” – (Act III, Scene I)

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – (Act II, Scene II)

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – (Act II, Scene II)

“Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.” – (Act III, Scene I)

“Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?” – (Act III, Scene II)

“I will speak daggers to her, but use none.” – (Act III, Scene II)

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 II, Scene VII)

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?” – (Act IV, Scene I)

“I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it” – (Act II, Scene IV)

“How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes!” – (Act V, Scene II)

King Richard III

“Conscience is but a word that cowards use, devised at first to keep the strong in awe” – (Act V, Scene III)

Romeo and Juliet

“Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.” – (Act II, Scene II)

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”- (Act II, Scene II)

The Merchant of Venice

“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?”. – (Act III, Scene I)

The Merry Wives of Windsor

“Why, then the world ‘s mine oyster” – (Act II, Scene II)

Taming of the Shrew

“I’ll not budge an inch” – (Induction, Scene I)

Julius Caesar

“Men at some time are masters of their fates” – (Act I, Scene II)

“Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” – (Act III, Scene II)

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once” – (Act II, Scene II)


“what ‘s done is done”- (Act III, Scene II)

“I bear a charmed life” – (Act V, Scene VIII)

“All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” – (Act V, Scene I)

King Lear

“My love’s more richer than my tongue” – (Act I, Scene I)

“Nothing will come of nothing.” – (Act I, Scene I)

Twelfth Night

“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”. – (Act II, Scene V)

“Love sought is good, but giv’n unsought is better” . – (Act III, Scene I)

King Henry the Fifth

“Men of few words are the best men”. – (Act III, Scene II)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind”. – (Act I, Scene I)

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There are also many phrases that have been used as parts of the English language which were originally coined by Shakespeare, so as the following:


“For ever and a day” – (Act IV, Scene I)

The Merry Wives of Windsor

“This is the short and the long of it” – (Act II, Scene II)

“As good luck would have it”- (Act III, Scene V)

Julius Ceasar

“It was Greek to me” – (Act I, Scene II).Antony and Cleopatra

“My salad days…” – (Act I, Scene V)

Before I end this article, (I’m keeping it short as “brevity is the soul of wit”) let me indulge you with one, if not the most famous of all Shakespeare’s sonnets –


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;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

–William Shakespeare

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How about you? What is your favorite Shakespearean line? #