This Above All; To Thine Own Self Be True

This above all; to thine own self be true
graphic © eminentlyquotable.com

“This above all; to thine own self be true” – William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) was a playwright, poet, and actor considered as the greatest dramatist of all time. He wrote 154 poems and 38 plays which are still widely and frequently performed up to this era. His works were an influence to prestigious writers who lived after him, and his words helped shape modern English. He is the second most quoted writer, after the Bible.

The quote above was taken from Polonius’ advice to his son Laertes in the play “Hamlet”. Contrary to popular interpretation, this advice was not merely to be true to oneself but to be a responsible, decent person. According to Literature analysts, “to be true” means to take care of oneself and to be honest in dealing with other people. The irony of the play is that Polonius is a man of questionable character, and therefore a hypocrite.

Being true to oneself can be equated to living with integrity. Unsurprisingly, being true is hardly an easy task. As explained by life coach Cheryl Richardson, it makes goals harder to reach and decisions harder to make. However, Gandhi believed that it promises real happiness: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Abraham Lincoln was an exemplary example of a man with integrity. To quote him: “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

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