William Shakespeare is universally acknowledged as the greatest writer in the history of the English language.
As the author of many of the most popular and beloved plays ever written, Shakespeare has been immortalized as a monumental genius who was able to portray the terrors and joys of life with a skill that remains unequaled to this day.
Shakespeare covered a wide variety of themes and topics in his work. He wrote brooding tragedies that include Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Othello and Hamlet. He amused audiences across the centuries with lighthearted comedies including The Merchant Of Venice, A Midsummer Night Dream, Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming Of The Shrew. He paid tribute to women and the charms of femininity in his sonnets and he also wrote many powerful verses about the quest to find meaning in human existence.
At the heart of Shakespeare’s genius was his ability to understand our deepest emotions. He spoke of our mortality in the starkest of terms and advised us to make our own destiny or be left in the dust. Shakespeare’s depiction of man’s fate in Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5 is one of the most profound statements on the finality of death ever set to verse.
Macbeth faces his final battle, betrayed by many of his former friends who have gone over to the enemy. As he awaits the slaughter, confident that he can survive a siege of his well fortified castle, he hears a woman’s scream and a servant rushes in to announce the death of Lady Macbeth. Suddenly, Macbeth acknowledges the futility of his actions and speaks these famous words:
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. 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
Although Shakespeare often wrote about the horrors of war and the vain pursuit of power, he also devoted many lines to the emotion of love and the beauty of women. He was able to praise the pure heart and ridicule the immodest, faithless lover with equal skill. What could be more fun than to read a few of Shakespeare’s famous quotes on the subject of love and rediscover the heart of the Bard’s passion.
1. From The Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1: “If music be the food of love, play on.”
2. From Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3, Scene 2: “Love goes by haps; Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.”
3. From Henry VI Part 1, Act 5, Scene 2: “Sheís beautiful, and therefore to be wooed; She is woman, and therefore to be won.”
4. From Romeo & Juliet, Act 1, Scene 1: “Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs.”
5. From Twelfth night, Act 3, Scene 1: “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.”
6. From A Midsummer Nightís Dream, Act 3, Scene 3: “Cupid is a knavish lad, thus to make females mad.”
7. From Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2: “Doubt that the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move his aides, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love.”
8. From The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 1, Scene 3: “Oh, how this spring of love resembleth, The uncertain glory of an April day, Which now shows all beauty of the Sun, And by and by a cloud takes all away.”
9. From Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 3: “A heart to love, and in that heart, Courage, to makeís love known.”
10. From Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 6: “Come what sorrow can, It cannot countervail the exchange of joy, That one short minute gives me in her sight.”