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William Shakespeare (1564-1616), as most of us know, was a poet and dramatist. He was born in Stratford-On-Avon in England. His poems and plays have been read, studied, analyzed, and performed for centuries.
As a high school student in New Jersey, I went with my class to a production of one of Shakespeare’s plays at a Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, Conn. Thank goodness, my English class read the play before making the trip to see the play.
As a teenager in New Jersey, my English language would not have allowed me to understand the Shakespearean English as spoken in the play without having read and discussed the play beforehand. In all honesty, I still had trouble understanding the lines when spoken by the actors.
Shakespeare was a really insightful commentator on humans and the human condition. Much of what he wrote centuries ago is still applicable. His observations and insights are timeless.
While thumbing through a collection of quotes from some of Shakespeare’s plays (“The Bard’s Guide to Abuses and Affronts,” compiled by Nancy Armstrong and Catherine Sweeney), I picked out some of the quotes that really struck me as relevant in today’s world/nation/politics/individuals.
“My tongue will tell the anger of my heart.” (The Taming of the Shrew)
“He has not so much brain as ear-wax.” (Troilus and Cressida)
“There’s a man hath more hair than wit.” (The Comedy of Errors)
“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Macbeth)
“I know what I know.” “I can hardly believe that, since you know not what you speak.” (Measure for Measure)
“In civility thou seem’st so empty.” (As You Like It)
“There’s neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee.” (Henry IV, Part I)
“Idol of idiot-worshippers.” (Troilus and Cressida)
The quotes below show that Shakespeare did not just focus on human frailties.
“When the lion fawns upon the lamb, the lamb will never cease to follow him. (King Henry the Sixth)
“Love sought is good, but giv’n unsought is better.” (Twelfth Night)
“Laugh yourself to stitches.” (Twelfth Night)
“Keep a good tongue in your head.” (The Tempest)
“Blessed are the peacemakers on earth.” (King Henry the Sixth)
Shakespeare still speaks.