May 27, 2024
6 mins read
6 mins read

Unlocking Shakespeare’s Wisdom: How It Reshapes Our Modern Life

Unlocking Shakespeare’s Wisdom: How It Reshapes Our Modern Life

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Every year, as we celebrate World Book Day, we’re reminded of the enduring legacy of William Shakespeare’s wisdom. Beyond remembering his death, his wise mind, articulated through the vibrant characters and compelling stories, continues to inspire and shape our views on life, love, and humanity. 

Every year, on April 23rd, people worldwide celebrate World Book Day. It’s the day several prominent authors died, such as Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Miguel de Cervantes, and William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is the most famous, and 400 years after his death, his words remain relevant and inspiring.

Shakespeare’s wisdom in modern life

William Shakespeare was a great dramatist with a rare ability to convey human emotions, inner thoughts, and ideas through language. He is called “The Bard,” a term originally meant a poet. More specifically, he is known as “The Bard of Avon,” a title he may have been given in recognition of his stature as a great poet and author.

Because of Shakespeare’s works’ universal appeal, he is credited with originating — or at least popularizing — most of the words and phrases English speakers use today. For example, “All that glitters is not gold” and “Love is blind.” 

Let’s delve into how Shakespeare’s wisdom is still relevant in guiding us through the complexities of modern life.

Shakespeare plays - the comedies, tragedies and histories in three leather volumes.

Because of Shakespeare’s works’ universal appeal, he is credited with originating—or at least popularizing—most of the words and phrases English speakers use today. (Image: Brad Calkins via Dreamstime)

9 Quotes from William Shakespeare’s Wisdom to inspire you

1. ‘Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.’

This quote reminds us that people are born with different abilities. However, you should never resign to fate or become afraid of taking risks. If you are consistent and resilient, you may achieve the same things as those with talents and privilege.

2. ‘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.’

These words, spoken by Polonius in Hamlet, show the importance of sticking to one’s values and standing up for one’s beliefs and ethics. When faced with a dilemma, don’t let other people sway you; use your judgment to do what is right.

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

Some people fail not because they are failures but because they never dared to try. This line encourages people to believe in themselves and take a risk.

4. ‘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.

This quote encourages people to take responsibility and action to change things. Sometimes, we have no control over the events in our lives, and it becomes easy to blame external circumstances. However, you can respond to these events and strive to overcome hurdles.

5. ‘The earth has music for those who listen.”

Mindfulness may seem modern, but this line reminds people to savor the present moment. Have you ever paused to enjoy the plants around you, the cold breeze on your face, or even the food you are chewing? Taking a break from the busyness of your life may allow you to hear “earth’s music.”

6. ‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.”

This quote comes from Juliet in the famous tragedy play Romeo and Juliet. Romeo’s and Juliet’s families (the Montagues and Capulets) fought and were taught to despise each other. Here, Juliet reminds Romeo that their names mean nothing and shouldn’t spoil their love for each other.

In modern times, Shakespeare inspires people to strive for their goals and ambitions even if they don’t have the privileges of their counterparts. 

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

This is another quote from Hamlet that reminds people to live in the moment. The future is unpredictable, and whatever you plan to do tomorrow, do today. 


Kenneth Branagh before the Battle of Agincourt in the film ‘Henry V.’ (Image: via BBC)

8. ‘Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.

Active listening is one of the greatest tools in a wise person’s kit. Listening allows you to learn, empathize, and regulate your emotions before you speak. It also allows people to build stronger relationships with those around them.

9. ‘Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.

This is a line from one of Shakespeare’s greatest history plays, Henry V. The book focuses on the events before and after the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years’ War. It’s an uplifting quote that reminds people of the importance of self-care and self-love. Some people may perceive people who focus on improving themselves as selfish, but it’s worse if you don’t do anything to uplift yourself.

The eternal wisdom of Shakespeare

One of the most widely used and famous quotes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet is: “To be, or not to be: that is the question.” The context of this quote in the book is darker because Hamlet weighs the pros and cons of being alive versus dead. In our context, William Shakespeare’s wisdom and meaningful words that came to life through his characters should inspire us “to be” mindful, active listeners, resilient, and faithful to ourselves when we are right. 

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