The Best Shakespeare Quotes about Friendship
William Shakespeare plays have greatly impacted the English language. However, his way with words may not directly translate to modern day vernacular.
Whenever Shakespeare mentions friends or discusses friendships, he's not just referring to acquaintances. Friends and family are interchangeable concepts for Shakespeare, but heartwarmingly, friendly quotes can still be found in Shakespeare plays regardless. Here’s some of our top quotes about friendship found in Shakespeare plays.
“Keep thy friend, under thy own life’s key.”
All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 1, Scene 1
Parents hope they’ve raised their children well, instilling good virtues. In this case, the Countess of Roussillon offers advice that he should always stay considerate to others to her son, Bertram. Essentially, it’s the thought that you should treat others how you’d want others to treat you for a fruitful friendship.
“My friends were poor but honest.”
All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 1, Scene 3
What people may lack in material riches, they can possess in emotional gains. This Shakespeare quote suggests that, even if your friend doesn’t have everything, honesty triumphs over any object wealth.
“The band that seems to tie their friendship together will be the very strangler of their amity.”
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, Scene 6
Marc Antony’s close aide Enobarbus speaks to Menas about Antony and Cleopatra’s developing relationship. But, as he shares his opinion that their closeness comes from peace, the relationship could quickly turn fractious. Nevertheless, friendships can be powerful and shouldn’t be neglected.
“Most friendship is feigning, most loving is folly.”
As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7
Shakespeare didn’t just write plays; he’d write poetry too. In As You Like It, Amiens speaks a poem in the play which speaks of the intolerance that characters have towards one another. In Amien’s case, all friendships are disguised under false pretence to better themselves.
“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.”
Coriolanus, Act 2, Scene 1
How do we form lifelong friendships in our destiny? It’s just in our human nature if this Shakespeare quote is anything to go by. Individually, we’ll all be able to instinctively work out who the important people in our lives are.
“There is flattery in friendship.”
Henry V, Act 3, Scene 7
Can being too close to someone affect a friendship? There’s a well-known phrase that suggests imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, with Constable saying to Orleans affirming this idea. Flattery and friendship can be intrinsically linked.
“Thy friendship makes us fresh.”
Henry VI, Act 3, Scene 3.
Making friends with new people is one of life’s greatest pleasures. That’s exactly what this Shakespeare quote suggests, as fresh friendships indicate a beginning of a relationship between two people. In context, this line is spoken between a King and a Duke, which is unlikely to happen to most of us, but we can always form friendships with people who were once strangers.
“O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!”
Henry VI Part Two, Act 1, Scene 1
Right from the get go of Henry VI Part Two, being thankful for life is clear. In this case, being given a heart that’s overflowing with gratefulness for friendship is a desirable object.
“A friend should bear his friend's infirmities.”
Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3
Friends should support one another, no matter what. But, in this scene between Cassius and Brutus, their prior dependence to each other is fleeting. In this scene, Cassius says that Brutus has continually highlighted weaknesses, instead of tolerating them as good acquaintances should.
“What’s done can’t be undone."
Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 2
Once you’ve made a conscious choice to behave a certain way in a friendship, it could affect all future decisions. That’s the sentiment Lady Macbeth suggests in this line, saying that once you’ve committed to something, that can’t be taken away. Instead, make the best decisions whenever you can and move on.
“Friendship is constant in all other things, save in the office and affairs of love.”
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, Scene 1
Although Claudio claims he’s in love with Hero, their romantic desire for one another is short-lived. It’s shown in this quote, suggesting that friendship can be found wherever you look, but flirtatious manners cannot be considered amicably beneficial.
“I count myself in nothing else so happy, as in a soul remembering my good friends.”
Richard II, Act 2, Scene 3
Strong friendships really can be the basis for life’s greatest memories. This Richard II quote proves that sentiment, suggesting that the happiest times can be found in thinking about close companions.
“I desire you in friendship, and I will one way or other make you amends.”
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3, Scene 1
Holding a grudge against someone can be emotionally taxing. In this scene, Doctor Caius says to Hugh Evans that he’s willing to stop conflicts as it’s just not worth it. If only all friendship breakups could be this easy to revolve.
“The law of friendship bids me to conceal.”
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 3, Scene 1
What is the law of friendship? Nobody can truly quantify attraction between two people; however friends are unlikely to go behind anyone’s backs. Even William Shakespeare understood this too, as this quote from Proteus to the Duke of Milan clarifies.
“To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.”
The Winter’s Tale, Act 1, Scene 2
Have you ever been too close to a friend? You’ve spent every waking moment with someone and you know all their secrets? That’s what this Shakespeare friendship quote is implying; getting too close with someone will inevitably feel like you’re in the same family.
Troilus and Cressida
“Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all, to envious and calumniating time.”
Troilus and Cressida, Act 3, Scene 3
Yes, being friends can take up a lot of time. So too can being in love as well as giving to others. Essentially, all our lives will send up with the same result — death. Ergo, why should we bother with anything? Charming.