Shakespeare and Advice for Living Well

Shakespeare and Advice for Living Well

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

By Robert Scott

There are so many quotable thoughts and expressions in Shakespeare that pertain to all cultures and all times. The most quoted thought from Hamlet is surely the hero’s soliloquy about what is, and what is not, worth living for. But another quote from that same play is so relevant to advising about life that it was (and probably still is!) among those items that every new Midshipman at the Naval Academy had to memorize, during plebe summer. It is placed into the voice of Hamlet’s family friend Polonius, as he advises his son Laertes who is leaving for the first time to head toFrance for college and, for the first time, for life beyond his parents’ home. As graduation season is upon us in Edgefield County once again, it is advice worth following. Here it is, from Hamlet, Act I Scene 3:

There; my blessing with thee!

And these few precepts in thy memory

See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,

Nor any unproportioned thought his act.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade. Beware

Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,

Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;

Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,

But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;

For the apparel oft proclaims the man,

And they in France of the best rank and station

Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;

For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Best wishes to all the new graduates this Summer of 2022, whether they are moving on to college or on to life!