Shakespeare’s topsy-turvy, festive romantic comedy Twelfth Night provides all manner of enduring and memorable quotes. Like so many of his plays, Shakespeare uses dialogue to brings his characters to life with witty oservations and some great one-liners about love and life. Twelfth Night also provides a number of quotes still frequently referenced to this day, such as “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”. Read our selection of the very best and most well known Twelfth Night quotes below, along with speaker, act and scene.
“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.”
Duke Orsino (act 1, scene 1)
“I have unclaspd
To thee the book even of my secret soul.”
Orsino (act 1, scene 4)
“Well, God give them wisdom that have it.
And those that are fools, let them use their talents.”
Fool (act 1, scene 5)
“Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.”
Fool (act 1, scene 5)
Olivia: “How does he love me?”
Viola: “With adoration, with fertile tears,
With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire.”
(act 1, scene 5)
“O time, thou must untangle this, not I.
It is too hard a knot for me t’untie.”
Viola (act 2, scene 2)
“Journeys end in lovers meeting.”
Fool (act 2, scene 3)
“She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief.”
Viola (act 2, scene 4)
“Come away, come away, Death,
And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath,
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white stuck all with yew, O prepare it!
My part of death, no one so true
Did share it
Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
On my black coffin let there be strewn:
Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown.
A thousand thousand sighs to save, lay me O where
Sad true lover never find my grave, to weep there!”
Fool (song) (act 2, scene 4)
“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.”
Malvolio (act 2, scene 5)
“Love sought is good, but given unsought better.”
Olivia (act 3, scene 1)
“This fellow is wise enough to play the fool;
And to do that well craves a kind of wit:
He must observe their mood on whom he jests,
The quality of persons, and the time,
And, like the haggard, check at every feather
That comes before his eye. This is a practise
As full of labour as a wise man’s art
For folly that he wisely shows is fit;
But wise men, folly-fall’n, quite taint their wit.”
Fool (act 3, scene 1)
“In nature there’s no blemish but the mind.
None can be called deformed but the unkind.”
Antonio (act 3, scene 4)
“I say there is no darkness but ignorance.”
Fool (act 4, scene 2)
Are any of your favourite Twelfth Night quotes missing from the above list? Let us know in the comments below.