Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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William Shakespeare

1564 – 1616 CE

The greatest writer in the English language whose works - 400 years after his death - have been translated into every living language and remain popular, respected, studied, and performed throughout the world; Shakespeare was as Ben Johnson wrote, "not of an age, but for all time.” When 18 years old, he had his first child 6 months after getting married and before long became a playwright and actor in his own and others’ plays. Unlike many of the prime movers on our biography lists, Shakespeare, though not revered, was successful during his lifetime (as a businessman) and by the time he was 33 while living in London owned the second largest home in Stratford. His influence not only revolutionized drama, scholars link more than 20,000 pieces of music to his writings, many famous paintings, his language helped shape modern English and common everyday phrases, Sigmund Freud drew heavily on him while developing his psychology theories, and Durant describes his influence as moving us to the depths of our spirit.

Eras

Sources

A Midsummer Night's Dream

All's Well That Ends Well

As You Like It

Hamlet

King Lear

Merchant of Venice

Much Ado About Nothing

Othello

Romeo and Juliet

The Tempest

Timon of Athens

Unlisted Sources

Anthony and Cleopatra

Cymbeline

Henry VIII

Sonnet 104

The Rape of Lucrece (1594)

Quotes by William Shakespeare (53 quotes)

“The gods are just and of our pleasant devices make instruments to plague us.”

from King Lear

Chapters: 80. A Golden Age

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“Are you sure that we are awake? It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream.”

from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Chapters: 40. Returning

Themes: Dream

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“Listen to many, speak to a few.”

from Hamlet

Chapters: 56. One with the Dust

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“Expectation is the root of all heartache. ("Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises.")”

from All's Well That Ends Well

Chapters: 48. Unlearning

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“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

from Hamlet

Chapters: 49. No Set Mind

Themes: Non-Thought

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“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it.”

from As You Like It

Chapters: 51. Mysterious Goodness

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“What a piece of work is a man! How noble… And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

from Hamlet

Chapters: 44. Fame and Fortune

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

from Merchant of Venice

Chapters: 67. Three Treasures

Themes: Less is More

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“I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue.”

from Much Ado About Nothing

Chapters: 36. The Small, Dark Light

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“Like madness is the glory of this life.”

from Timon of Athens

Chapters: 8. Like Water

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“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.”

from Othello

Chapters: 2. The Wordless Teachings

Themes: Success

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“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.”

from As You Like It

Chapters: 57. Wu Wei

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“All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.”

from Merchant of Venice

Chapters: 75. Greed

Themes: Livelihood Wealth

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

from As You Like It

Chapters: 67. Three Treasures

Themes: Illusion Wisdom

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“I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed! (In our last battle of wits he lost most of his, and now he’s only left with one, so I’m going to let him keep it so people can tell the difference between him and his horse.)

from Much Ado About Nothing

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“Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.”

from Romeo and Juliet

Chapters: 15. Inscrutability

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“My soul is in the sky.”

from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Chapters: 39. Oneness

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“Conscience doth make cowards of us all.”

from Hamlet

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“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.”

from Hamlet

Themes: True Self

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“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

from The Tempest

Themes: Egolessness Dream

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“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that hath such people in it!”

from The Tempest

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“Knowing I loved my books, he furnish'd me from mine own library with volumes that I prize above my dukedom.”

from The Tempest

Themes: Books

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“You taught me language; and my profit on't is, I know how to curse.”

from The Tempest

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“Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.”

Themes: Love

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“When words fail, music speaks.”

Themes: Music

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“And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.”

from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Themes: Marriage Moon

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“Choice... momentary as a sound, swift as a shadow, short as any dream; brief as the lightening in the collied night.”

from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Themes: Desire

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“The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself—
Yea, all which it inherit—shall dissolve,
And like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.”

from The Tempest

Themes: Impermanence

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“Art is a mirror held up to nature.”

Themes: Art

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“Earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice.”

from Merchant of Venice

Themes: Kindness Justice

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“Orpheus with his lute made trees, and the mountain tops that freeze bow themselves when he did sing; there had made a lasting spring… In sweet music is such art, killing care and grief of heart”

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“To business that we love, we rise betimes, and go to it with delight.”

from Anthony and Cleopatra

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“And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot,
And thereby hangs a tale.”

from As You Like It

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“Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.”

from Cymbeline

Themes: Old Age

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“All things are with more spirit chased than enjoyed.”

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“To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still.

from Sonnet 104

Themes: Old Age

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“By medicine, life may be prolonged, yet death / Will seize the doctor too.”

from Cymbeline

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“And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”

from A Midsummer Night's Dream

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

Themes: Ambition

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“I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking: I could well wish courtesy would invent some other custom of entertainment.”

Themes: Entertainment

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“Men shut their doors against a setting sun.”

from Timon of Athens

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“Then a soldier, full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon’s mouth.”

from As You Like It

Themes: Warriors

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“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”

from All's Well That Ends Well

Themes: Integrity

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“Good without evil is like light with out darkness which in turn is like righteousness without hope.”

from All's Well That Ends Well

Themes: Paradox Evil

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“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together: our virtues would be proud if our faults whipped them not; and our crimes would despair, if they were not cherished by our virtues”

from All's Well That Ends Well

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“Now I see the mystery of your loneliness.”

from All's Well That Ends Well

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“Strange is it that our bloods,
Of color, weight, and heat, pour'd all together,
Would quite confound distinction, yet stand off
In differences so mighty.”

from All's Well That Ends Well

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“Religious in mine error, I adore the sun, that looks upon his worshipper, but knows of him no more.”

from All's Well That Ends Well

Themes: Religion

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“Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten times found: by being ever kept, it is ever lost. ’Tis too cold a companion: away with it!”

from All's Well That Ends Well

Themes: Sex

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“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

from All's Well That Ends Well

Themes: Strategy

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“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?”

Themes: Patience

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“I have touched the highest point of all my greatness. And from that full meridian of my glory I haste now to my setting.”

from Henry VIII

Themes: Success

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“Beauty itself doth of itself persude
The eyes of men without an orator.”

from The Rape of Lucrece (1594)

Themes: Beauty

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Quotes about William Shakespeare (9 quotes)

“[Shakespeare] became William the Conqueror to all the dramatists of his time, and has ruled the English-speaking world ever since. His rich and riotous energy was the source of his genius and his faults; it brought him the depth and passion of his plays, and it brought him twins and an early death.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Shakespeare is not only no genius but is not even 'an average author'... his words have nothing in common with art and poetry.”

Leo Tolstoy 1828 – 1910 CE
from Shakespeare and the Drama (1903)

Themes: Poetry

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“For Shakespeare, in the matter of religion, the choice lay between Christianity and nothing. He chose nothing.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet
from The Absence of Religion in Shakespeare

Themes: Religion

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“The whole civilized world has somehow been deluded into thinking Shakespeare a good writer, and even the plainest demonstration to the contrary makes no impression, because one is not dealing with a reasoned opinion, but with something more akin to religious faith.”

George Orwell 1903 – 1950 CE
English, poet, humanist, apostle of doubt, and powerful political influence
from Inside the Whale and Other Essays (1957)

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“A silly song of Shakespeare’s has done more for the poor and the wicked than all the preachers and philanthropists in the world.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Orlando: A Biography

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“This is the reason my soul always turns back to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. I feel that those who speak there are at least human beings; they hate, they love, they murder their enemies, and curse their descendants throughout all generations, they sin.”

Søren Kierkegaard 1813 – 1855 CE via Swenson
"The first existentialist philosopher"
from Either/Or (1843)

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“a state of being where the mind knows the source of all light... the saints, the arhats, the bodhisattvas, the jivanmuktas who knew something or everything about this state of being... we wanted you to know who and what Jesus and Gautama and Lao Tzu and Shankaracharya and Huineng and Sri Ramakrishna, etc., were before you knew too much or anything about Homer or Shakespeare or even Blake or Whitman, let alone George Washington and his cherry tree... or how to parse a sentence”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Enlightenment

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“Shakespeare is a barbarian who wrote monstrous farces called tragedies.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

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“Shakespeare was a man of keen humor and great sweetness of mind, who turned every sentence he wrote into melody. Elizabethan drama... found its extreme exponent in Shakespeare whose richest, subtlest passages are drawn from homely and even vulgar life.”

H. G. Wells 1866 – 1946 CE
A father of science fiction and One World Government apostle
from Outline of History

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