Tag Archives: Annotated

To Thine Own Self Be True

The following piece of advice appears in Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, written in the early 1600s:

In Hamlet, this advice is given by Polonius to his son, Laertes, as he is leaving home for university.  Polonius dispenses this advice because as his son leaves, he wishes his son to be able to make it on his own, find success and maintain his dignity.  Along those lines, he wishes his son to remember the lessons and characteristics instilled in him by his family.  He tells his son, “to thine own self be true,” which is to say to him, “be true to yourself and trust in your own ability and judgment.”  This is excellent advice, as self-expression and the satisfaction derived from it is one of the greatest truths in life.

It is interesting that this lesson was written so long ago.  The idea of self-expression and tolerance among those that do so seems to be relatively new, within the last half century or so.  To see it written nearly 400 years ago gives the concept a new meaning to me, as it seems to be intertwined with the human condition.  This means that being true to yourself is not so much something to remember or a privilege, but rather, a necessary function of being human and finding satisfaction and contentment within our own lives.

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

The following proverb appears in the Bible:

Found in the book of Proverbs, which is a sort of collection of lessons or guidelines by which one should live their life, the proverb essentially means that it is important to be a good and attentive parent.  As the story explains, a good father takes the time to discipline his child and explain to him why his actions were wrong, eliminating the need for physical discipline.  A bad father, on the other hand, would only look to punish his child by spanking him or by other form of physical discipline.  This sort of behavior only alienates the child and drives a distance between father and child, whereas taking the time to teach the child has the dual benefits of sustaining the closeness of the relationship and sparing the child any physical harm.

Interestingly, my friend’s father would always jokingly reverse the saying, as a humorous way of reminding his son to stay in line.