Shakespeare or not Shakespeare Quotes that May Surprise You!

Posted February 03, 2012 by Denise Gangnes
Have you ever noticed how many famous quotes are attributed to the wrong author? Quotes from the Bible are often attributed to Shakespeare or Mark Twain, and vice versa. Today we're going to clear up some of the misquoted phrases written by The Bard, and, recognizing his gift with romantic prose and the upcoming celebration of "V-Day", let's throw in some of Shakespeare love quotes (just in case you thought they were written by someone at Hallmark).

Here's one of the Shakespeare quotes often attributed to other authors: "This above all: To your own self, be true." Some of you will know the line is spoken by Polonius giving advice to his son, Hamlet. Lesser known is the surprising number of rappers that have incorporated versions of this phrase into some well-known hip-hop downloads. Now that's versatility!

How many times have you heard the quote, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them" in a graduation service or motivational speech? Shakespeare fans will recognize these words read by Malvolio in Twelfth Night, but they have been also coined in movies like Night at the Museum and She's the Man (a contemporary version of the classic Shakespeare play). Another common phrase, "Out! Damned spot" has been overused in many cleaning commercials, although no stain remover exists that would have helped Lady Macbeth try to clean imaginary blood.

I've always enjoyed Shakespeare quotes about wine, although I find the quote, "Good wine needs no bush" a bit obvious, since by the time grapes are made into wine, the foliage has long since "died on the vine" so to speak. Wine is mentioned most often (and most contrarily) in the play Othello. Naturally, in the beginning it's all fun and games: "Come, come, good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used; exclaim no more against it" but when things turn sour in this epic tragedy, the mood changes and we hear, "O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!" Perhaps Othello was blaming his actions on a bad vintage.

Let's focus on Shakespeare quotes of a more romantic nature. "The course of true love never did run smooth" is attributed to Lysander in Midsummer Night's Dream, a whimsical play that was turned into a delightful movie starring Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer. This comedy is a hotbed for famous Shakespeare quotes, among them "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind." During the play the reference is made to a fool that has been turned into an ass (the animal kind), and basically means, "love is blind." Whether you think this is a good or bad thing I'll leave to your own interpretation.

Shakespeare's sonnets contained many romantic Shakespeare quotes. "To me, fair friend, you never can be old. For as you were when first your eye I eyed, such seems your beauty still" is meant as a compliment, but I'm not sure the intent always comes across as such. It's better to stick with a flowery Shakespeare quote such as, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou are more lovely and more temperate," suitable for both greeting cards and posts on social networking sites.

Still cringing at the approach of Valentine's Day? If your heart has been recently broken, you might appreciate the image of Shakespeare's epic witches conjuring up a batch of bad juju in Macbeth, chanting "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble."

Just like Hallmark, Shakespeare has a quote for every occasion!

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Authors Mentioned: William Shakespeare

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