Photo credit: Red rose on paper (Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

The Best Shakespeare Quotes about Love

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

William Shakespeare needs no introduction. The sixteenth-century British playwright changed the landscape of theatre and the English language, with dozens of comedies, tragedies, and histories. But regardless of which Shakespeare play you are viewing or reading, many Shakespeare works feature beautiful quotes relating to love, marriage, and kinship.

Whether "music is the food of love" or if "the course of true love never did run smooth," Shakespeare's way with words continues to impress us generations later. Here's some of our top love quotes found in Shakespeare plays.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind."
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 1, Scene 1

Right from the get go of A Midsummer Night's Dream, there's poetry to be found. Sometimes referred to in conversations today, it means that love can be found in the imagination; the mental state of someone can be more attractive than the eyes may give reason to. When spoken in the play, it's said with a tinge of jealousy, as Helena wants Demetrius to fall in love with a whole person and not just for someone's looks.

"The course of true love never did run smooth."
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 1, Scene 1

I think we all know this to be true, and so did William Shakespeare. In a scene between Lysander and Hermia, Lysander comments that the path to true love will always be riddled with obstacles. Their love triangle is definitely a tricky one.

"Cupid is a knavish lad, thus to make females mad."
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 3, Scene 3

If only falling in love was as easy as being hit with an arrow. Alas, the cupid can be dishonest and strike up unlucky relationships which ends up with women becoming emotional.

All's Well That Ends Well

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."
All's Well That Ends Well, Act 1, Scene 1

The Countess leaves her son with this stellar advice before he joins the royal court of Paris. While it may not be about romantic love, its discussion of platonic love is worthy of being on this list.

Antony and Cleopatra

"The stroke of death is as a lovers pinch, Which hurts and is desired."
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 5, Scene 5

Love can ignite us with passion. But love can also cause the greatest pain. When Cleopatra orders a countryman to bring snakes to her, she exclaims that leaving the world while lying still implies you have no love left to give. The world and everything around you is not worthy of a goodbye.


"Men's vows are women's traitors."
Cymbeline, Act 3, Scene 4

Where there is love, there is deceit. Imogen says this of her husband when thinking about his promises. Having gone against his word, it's clear that Imogen believes men's promises are not worth anything. Hence promises for one sex being traitoruous for another.

Henry V

"I know no ways to mince it in love, but directly to say 'I love you.'"
Henry V, Act 5, Scene 2

If only people could be this direct nowadays. This quote is pretty clear and, in fact, is probably more wordy than it needs to be. Simply put, it's just one person saying "I love you" directly.

Henry VI

"She's beautiful, and therefore to be wooed; She is woman, and therefore to be won."
Henry VI Part 1, Act 5, Scene 2

Said when thinking about beautiful ladies, this quote implies that an attractive woman will be pursued by multiple suitors, eventually ending up with the man who wins her affection. The quote implies that beauty should be treated gently, but on the other hand does suggest that women cannot make decisions independently.

Much Ado About Nothing

"I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me."
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 1, Scene 1

Beatrice is full of some biting one-liners. We all know how the story goes and she'll change her mind by the end, but she's got quips for days at the beginning. 

"Speak low if you speak love."
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, Scene 1

Don Pedro offers this advice to Hero, suggesting that if he wants to talk tenderly, he should do so softly. Now, this line is popularised due to Kurt Weill's track "Speak Low," which uses this Shakespeare quote to open the song.

"I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest."
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 4, Scene 1

LIke we said, Beatrice comes around at the end of the play, and finally she has no more reasons why she and Benedict should not be together. 

Romeo and Juliet

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

These star-crossed lovers are the perfect example of Shakespearean romance. Juliet says this to Romeo when they discuss how their quarrelling families are stopping them from being together. If only they could have stayed together forever.

"See how she leans her cheek upon her hand. O that I were a glove upon that hand, That I might touch that cheek."
Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

While he's longing for Juliet, Romeo sees his teenage lover looking out the window. In this quote, he speaks of Juliet as his shining light, wishing to be the glove so that he can constantly be close to her.

The Tempest

"Hear my soul speak. Of the very instant that I saw you, Did my heart fly at your service."
The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 1

If someone said this now, it'd sweep anyone off their feet. Ferdinand says this heartfelt line to Miranda, wanting to serve her and do good by her whatever it takes.

"I would not wish any companion in the world but you."
The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 1

Miranda tells Ferdinand that she's deeply in love with him. So much so, Miranda only wants to spend time with Ferdinand. He is her only companion.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

"Love is like a child, That longs for everything it can come by."
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 3, Scene 1

As soon as a child sees something they'll want, they'll pester their parents repeatedly until it's theirs. This happens in old age too, with the Duke stopping at nothing until he gets the woman of his dreams.

Troilus and Cressida

"Is this the generation of love? Hot blood, hot thoughts and hot deeds? Why, they are vipers. Is love a generation of vipers?"
Troilus and Cressida, Act 3, Scene 1

Yes, Shakespeare did write crude scenes from time to time. Pandarus makes this comment to suggest that when you get hot under the collar, this can lead to flirty suggestions which will in turn lead to sexual acts.

Twelfth Night

"If music be the food of love, play on."
Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1

We used this quote in our round up of top Shakespeare comedies, as taken out of context, it can seem nonsensical. However, Orsino says this as he's just desperate to fall in love. In fact, he wants so much love that he no longer wants to be hungry. Therefore he wants the music to keep going until he has no more love to give.

"Love sought is good, but given unsought is better."
Twelfth Night, Act 3, Scene 1

Going steady can be tiresome. This is a sentiment that Olivia shares in Twelfth Night, commenting that natural love and reciprocation is better than forcing a relationship. Reversing this, Olivia could also be looking the perfect love without having to pursue it herself.

Shakespeare Sonnets

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"
Sonnet 18, Line 1

Although this quote may not come from a Shakespeare play, this line is the start of what's often considered to be a Shakespeare love sonnet. Throughout the poem, the speaker asks if he should compare himself to the joy of a summer day. Even if a summer day doesn't last forever, the speaker longs to remember this feeling for eternity, falling in love with his surroundings. 

Photo credit: Red rose on paper (Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

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