“To Thine Own Self Be True” Understanding Shakespeare’s Timeless Wisdom

Andrew Wood
4 min readJun 20, 2024

“To thine own self be true,” one of William Shakespeare’s most famous quotes, encapsulates a profound piece of advice that transcends time and context. Originating from the play “Hamlet,” this line is spoken by the character Polonius as part of his fatherly counsel to his son, Laertes. Despite the character’s somewhat dubious nature, these words have resonated through centuries, offering a beacon of wisdom on the importance of authenticity and integrity.

Context of the Quote

In Act 1, Scene 3 of “Hamlet,” Polonius gives a series of maxims to Laertes, who is about to depart for France. Among the various pieces of advice about money management, friendship, and caution, Polonius concludes with:

“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.”

While Polonius’s intentions can be interpreted as hypocritical or self-serving, the essence of this particular advice stands out as universally valuable. It suggests that self-honesty is the cornerstone of personal integrity and, by extension, how one relates to others.

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Andrew Wood

Author & Marketing Legend with over 50 books :I write on: Marketing, Travel, Sales, Success, Biz, Leadership, Golf, Autos, Books, Events www.AndrewWoodInc.com