Unknown and mysterious, death is a very powerful thing for all of us…and something this page tries to tap into with a range of Shakespeare quotes about death. Although no-one knows what happens after death, billions have their own ideas about it, which differ from culture to culture and person to person. Because of the power of the word writers and poets tend to make the most of it to arouse emotions in the imagination of the reader. And Shakespeare was no exception, using  the word ‘death’ a great deal throughout his works – sometimes simply referring to death, often using death as a simile, and sometime personifying death (death seen as a tyrant, a lover, an executioner etc.). Below are a range of Shakespeare death quotes, categorized into a selection of types of quotes about death:

Shakespeare death quotes where he refers to death as something that simply happens to us

1. ‘This thought is as a death’

(Sonnet 64))

2. ‘For now they kill me with a living death’

(King Richard III))

3. ‘Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death’

(Romeo & Juliet))

4. ‘Death-counterfeiting sleep’

(A Midsummer Night’s Dream))

5. ‘The gloomy shade of death’

(King Henry VI, Part I))

6. ‘What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!’

(King Richard III))

7. ‘O wretched state! o bosom black as death!’


8. ‘On pain of death, no person be so bold’

(King Richard II))

9. ‘Tired with all these, for restful death I cry’

(Sonnet 66))

10. ‘Cowards die many times before their deaths’

(Julius Caesar)

11. ‘What is thy sentence then but speechless death’

(King Richard II)

12. ‘Look upon thy death’

(Romeo & Juliet)

13. ‘To rush into the secret house of death’

(Antony & Cleopatra)

14. ‘The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes’

(Julius Caesar)

15. ‘Why, thou owest god a death’

(King Henry IV, Part I)

16. ‘The valiant never taste of death but once’

(Julius Caesar)

17. ‘Speak me fair in death’

(Merchant of Venice)

18. ‘Let me be boiled to death with melancholy’

(Twelfth Night)

19. ‘Dream on, dream on, of bloody deeds and death’

(King Richard III)

20. ‘Whose heart the accustom’d sight of death makes hard’

(As You Like It)

21. ‘Muddy death’

( Hamlet)

22. ‘Thou ominous and fearful owl of death’

(King Henry VI, Part I)

23. ‘Ay, but to die, and go we know not where’

(Measure for Measure)

Shakespeare using death as a metaphor, or part of a metaphor

24. ‘For in that sleep of death what dreams may come’


25. ‘This thought is as a death’

(Sonnet 64)

27. ‘Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death’

(Romeo & Juliet)

28. ‘Death-counterfeiting sleep’

(A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

29. ‘The gloomy shade of death’

(King Henry VI, Part I)

30. ‘What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!’

(King Richard III)

31. ‘O wretched state! o bosom black as death!’


32. ‘On pain of death, no person be so bold’

( King Richard II)

Shakespeare death quotes where Shakespeare personifies death

33. ‘When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover’

(Sonnet 5)

34. ‘O Death, made proud with pure and princely beauty!’

(King John)

35. ‘Though Death be poor, it ends a mortal woe’

(King Richard II)

36. ‘So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men’

(Sonnet 146)

37. ‘Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath’

(Romeo & Juliet)

38. ‘Death lies on her like an untimely frost’

(Romeo & Juliet)

39. ‘Death is my son-in-law, death is my heir’

(Romeo & Juliet)

40. Crack’d in pieces by malignant Death’

(King Richard III)

41. ‘Death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead!’

(Romeo & Juliet)

42. ‘Where hateful Death put on his ugliest mask’

(King Henry IV, Part II)

43. ‘When Death doth close his tender dying eyes’

(King Henry VI, Part I)

44. ‘Till our King Henry had shook hands with Death’

(King Henry VI, Part III)

45. ‘Then have we a prescription to die when Death is our physician’


46. ‘The worst is Death, and death will have his day’

(King Richard II)

47. ‘The sudden hand of Death close up mine eye!’

(Love’s Labour’s Lost)

48. ‘Unsubstantial Death is amorous’

(Romeo & Juliet)

49. ‘Death rock me asleep’

(King Henry IV, Part II)

50. ‘Then love-devouring Death do what he dare’

(Romeo & Juliet)

Test your Shakespeare quote knowledge with our Shakespeare quote quiz – simply match the 10 Shakespeare quotes to the correct play!

That’s it folks! What’s your favorite Shakespeare quote about death, and why? Share in the comments section below.

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4 replies
  1. Cullen
    Cullen says:

    This thought is as a death…… (Sonnet)
    Death-counterfeiting sleep….. (A midsummer night dream)
    For now they kill me with a living death….. (King Richard III)

    When I read down the list those 3 sounded like they belonged together….
    I think it’s beautiful.


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