20 Powerful Shakespeare Quotes About Literature

Shakespeare, the famous playwright, and poet is well-known for his most remarkable pieces of literature ever written, but what about the things he had to say about the art of writing itself? His works are a literary treasure, feast for the senses, and reflect human emotions. It’s no wonder that even after four centuries, his plays and sonnets continue to enthrall readers and theatre-goers alike.

But did you know that Shakespeare had much to say about literature too? The man who penned iconic phrases such as “To be or not to be,” and “All the world’s a stage” had some insightful thoughts about the art of writing. From the power of words to the importance of storytelling, Shakespeare’s quotes about literature continue to inspire writers and readers alike.

So, whether you’re an avid reader, a budding writer, or just someone who loves a good Shakespearean pun, this is the blog for you as we explore some of The Bard of Avon’s most memorable quotes about literature and discover why his insights into the written word are as relevant today as they were in his time.

Shakespeare quotes about the power of language and literature

Many quotes have suggested how poetry, language, and literature have the power to move us, inspire us, and change the world. William Shakespeare, one of the greatest playwrights and poets of all time, understood this better than most. His works are full of quotes that demonstrate the power of language and literature to shape our lives and the world around us. Here are a few of his most famous quotes on the subject:


1. “The truest poetry is the most feigning.” – As You Like It, Act III, Scene III

2. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Hamlet, Act II, Scene II

3. “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.” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene I

4. “The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy, rolling, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven.” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene I

5. “I have not the skill to reason well in words; my brain hath not that sharpness nor my tongue that power of speech.” – The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act V, Scene IV

6. “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” – Macbeth, Act V, Scene V

7. “My library was dukedom large enough.” – The Tempest, Act I, Scene II

8. “The pen is mightier than the sword.” – Hamlet, Act II, Scene II

9. “Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.” – The Passionate Pilgrim

10. “Literature is a comprehensive essence of the intellectual life of a nation.”

11. “To be a well-favored man is the gift of fortune, but to write and read comes by nature.”

12. “Write till your ink be dry and with your tears. Moist it again and frame some feeling lines. That may discover such integrity.”

13. “It is a tale…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

14. “The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo.” – Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act V, Scene II

15. “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet, are of imagination all compact.”

16. “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” – Hamlet, Act III, Scene III

17. “But words are words; I never yet did hear that the bruised heart was pierced through the ear.” – Othello, Act IV, Scene II

18. “Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart.” – Troilus and Cressida, Act V, Scene III

19. “Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling (adapted from a line in Troilus and Cressida, Act I, Scene III)

20. “My words are only words, and moved upon the air.” – Richard II, Act II, Scene I

Shakespeare’s literary legacy: How Shakespeare has impacted literature

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as one of the greatest playwrights in the history of English literature. His influence on the English language and the development of literary forms cannot be overstated. Here are some ways in which Shakespeare has impacted literature:

  1. The English language: Shakespeare is credited with contributing more than 1,700 words to the English language. He used words in new and innovative ways, and his plays helped to standardize grammar and spelling. Many phrases and idioms that we use today have their roots in Shakespeare’s plays, such as “break the ice,” “heart of gold,” and “star-crossed lovers.”
  2. The development of drama: Shakespeare’s plays revolutionized the theater in the Elizabethan era. He expanded the scope of what was possible in a play, combining tragedy and comedy, and introducing complex characters with multiple motivations. His plays often explored universal themes such as love, revenge, and the human condition, making them relevant to audiences across time and place.
  3. The power of storytelling: Shakespeare’s plays are known for their intricate plots, memorable characters, and poetic language. His works have inspired countless adaptations, reimaginings, and interpretations in various forms of media, from film and television to music and literature. 
  4. Literary Allusions: Shakespeare’s works have been referenced and alluded to in countless works of literature throughout the centuries. Writers from Samuel Beckett to Toni Morrison have drawn inspiration from Shakespeare’s themes, characters, and language.
  5. The role of the writer: Shakespeare’s success as a playwright made him a celebrity in his own time. His works were performed in front of royalty and commoners alike, and he became wealthy and influential as a result. His legacy has helped to shape the modern understanding of the role of the writer in society as someone who can both entertain and educate, challenge and inspire.

Hence, Shakespeare’s literary legacy has profoundly impacted the English language, the theater, and the power of storytelling. His works continue to be celebrated and studied today, even after 400 years after his death, as a testament to the enduring power of his words and ideas.


For a good reason, William Shakespeare’s works continue to be celebrated and studied centuries after they were first written. He recognized the power of literature to express the deepest human experiences and to move people to action. His quotes about literature remind us of the importance of storytelling and the written word, both as a reflection of our society and as a means to shape it.

As we continue to explore the rich tapestry of human experience through literature, we can draw inspiration and wisdom from Shakespeare’s timeless words. Furthermore, these quotes can also be used as one of the ideas for world poetry day. 

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