My Top Five Shakespeare Quotes

A guest post by Elisabeth Bridges

Elisabeth_Bridges_photoWhen I received the invitation to participate in this series, I got a bit excited. And by “a bit excited,” I mean shaking-and-letting-out-muffled-shrieks-while-spinning-around-in-my-desk-chair excited. Bard quotes flooded my brain, and I began to wonder if I would end up trying to stuff his entire canon into my word count. Even four hundred years after his death, I don’t believe we’ve come to the end of the truth and beauty in his words. Once I calmed down, I realized I would need stricter guidelines, so I set out to define my top five quotes. I almost made it, too. I ended up with one extra because, as we bardolaters know, he’s irresistible.

  1. “O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
    The brightest heaven of invention…”
    Henry V, Prologue

I fully get you, Will. How can we fit the wide expanse of our visions onto a tiny stage? As a person who makes daily attempts in various art forms, this is my constant cry. It is also my go-to phrase for tagging art store pen-testing pads. While we’re on the subject of Henry V…

  1. “…a good heart, Kate, is the sun and the moon; or, rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps his course truly.” Henry V Act V, scene 2

Confession time: I have a massive crush on Henry V, and this quote is one of the reasons why. He makes a bumbling, charming, awkward mess out of his proposal to Kate, and it’s adorable. But this line makes up for all the awkwardness. A good heart is the most important thing we can bring to any relationship, romantic or otherwise. This also shows that Shakespeare was as addicted to commas as I am.

  1. “I thank you for your company; but, good faith, I had as lief have been myself alone.” As You Like It Act III, scene 2

You and me both, Jacques. As an introvert, I’m happiest when I’m alone with my brain. I don’t hate people, and I even enjoy hanging out with friends on occasion. But chances are, I would have been just as happy to be by myself. Especially if people are trying to engage me in small talk. Speaking of which…

  1. “…more of your conversation would infect my brain.” Coriolanus Act II, scene 1

I hate small talk. If you ever see me at a party with a fixed grin and glazed eyes, this quote is most likely running through my head. Can we talk about something with substance, please…Plebeians? Maybe something ripe for debate, such as…

  1. “…there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet Act II, scene 2

This one comes with a disclaimer: There are most certainly bad things in the world. Racism. Genocide. Spiders (You know I’m right). No matter how you think about them, they’re evil. However, our minds have incredible power. The way we choose to think about our circumstances can directly affect how we respond to them, whether for good or bad (or in Hamlet’s case, homicide). The outcome is up to us.

So that was five. But there’s no possible way I’m ending this post without mentioning what (if I had to choose) might be my favorite Shakespeare quote of all. Consider it a bonus:

“Be that thou know’st thou art, and then thou art
As great as that thou fear’st.”
Twelfth Night Act V, scene 1

Alrighty, folks. I’m about to rant. Why is the “greatness/thrust upon” quote the one everybody remembers from this play? It’s not all that motivational even by itself, and in context it’s…even less so. If you’re curious, look it up. Only a few scenes later, we discover this forgotten gem. Okay, rant over. Thank you for your patience.

Now for the good stuff: With his truth and beauty as boundless as the sea, and his well of compassion as deep, Shakespeare teaches me not only how to look at my world, but also how to look at myself. Personally, any greatness I have is rooted in my identity as a Christ-follower. If I know myself to be a child of God, created in His perfect image, what have I to fear?


Elisabeth Bridges spends most of her time furiously scribbling out every word she just wrote down and muttering “Someday, Jane Austen… Someday.” In a parallel universe, she is a Young Life leader on a tiny island in Washington State. You can usually find her burbling about something at

About writerhoss

I am a writer from southwestern Ohio, and a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats. My books include The Bard and the Bible (A Shakespeare Devotional).
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2 Responses to My Top Five Shakespeare Quotes

  1. Pingback: Spinning in my Desk Chair. | elisabeth anne writes things

  2. Pingback: Big Little Successes. | elisabeth anne writes things

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