Quotations cautioning against calling too much attention to oneself. Can anyone help?Looking for a Shakespeare quote which is a caution against calling too much attention to oneself. Can anyone...

Quotations cautioning against calling too much attention to oneself. Can anyone help?

Looking for a Shakespeare quote which is a caution against calling too much attention to oneself. Can anyone help?

Expert Answers
parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

'Constant you are,
But yet a woman, and for secrecy,
No lady closer, for I well believe
Thou wilt not utter what thou dost not know,
And so far will I trust thee, gentle Kate.'

- Hotspur in Henry IV, Part I, Act 2, Scene 3 in refusing to reveal his purpose of armed rebelliion against the king.

 'The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life.'

- Falstaff in Henry IV, Part I, Act 5, Scene after having survived in battle by pretending to be dead.

'Give they thought no tongue, nor any unproportioned thought its act. '

- Polonius to his son Laertes in Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3 before Laertes' departure for France.

robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

They're not particularly pleasant quotes, but there's a couple of examples in Macbeth.

"False face doth hide what the false heart doth know"

"Look like th'innocent flower but be the serpent under't"

And there's also Falstaff in the first part of Henry IV, who believes that "the better part of valour is discretion".

These are all, however - rather obviously, to anyone who knows the play - out of context.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

How about:

Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,
Till by broad spreading it disperses to naught.

Henry VI



frizzyperm | Student

"Others there are, who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
And throwing but shows of service on their lords
Do well thrive by them; and when they have lined their
coats, Do themselves homage. These fellows have some soul,
And such a one do I profess myself.
For, sir, It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago.
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end.
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In complement extern, 'tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

"Knavery's plain face is never seen till used."

"How am I then a villain
To counsel Cassio to this parallel course,
Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows."

Iago (Boo! Hiss!) the master of disguised villany, explains why being open and honest is for fools and that treachery is the best policy.

frizzyperm | Student

Noodles! In above post, I cut and pasted the 'modern speak translation' instead of the original version. Typical Carelessnessness! Anyway, here it is ...

"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."

frizzyperm | Student

"...keep you in the rear of your affection,
Out of the shot and danger of desire."

Laertes to Ophelia Act I Sc III

"Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar."

"Those friends you have, and their friendship tested,
Anchor them to your soul with hoops of steel,
But don’t spend your money on entertaining
Each newly acquired, unproven friend."

"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;(75)
For the apparel oft proclaims the man."

Polonius advising his son, Laertes, as he leaves home to go to University abroad. (act I sc III)


Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question