William Shakespeare, perhaps the most extraordinary writer who ever lived, includes some magnificent philosophical truths in his work. Brilliantly constructed, his world-renowned play, Hamlet, demonstrates his excellence. When reading it, I felt privileged to read such beautifully written language, and choosing my favorite quote was difficult.
In the beginning of the play, Laertes prepares to go to France. Naturally, his father Polonius gives him some special words of advice before he leaves, “[t]his above all: to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as night the day/ Thou canst not then be false to any man” (I.ii.84-86). If Laertes is honest with himself his father believes he won’t misrepresent himself to others, and he will be a true gentleman.
Not only is this quote pleasurable reading, it is entirely truthful. Lying and cheating are two violations of this truth that I’ve witnessed frequently. For example, English has always been one of my weaker subjects because I’m not a very efficient reader. Even so, I study hard for my tests and often get a decent result. However, several others, whose English skills are also relatively weak, choose to cheat, there by obtaining a grade equal to or higher than my own. I could easily do this as well—leaving more time to sleep and devote to soccer—but not while being true to myself. After studying intently for a test and getting the result I deserve, I’m completely satisfied, with the grade and myself. This is what’s important according to Shakespeare: to be able to look into the mirror and be proud of the face looking back.