216 Famous and Funny George Bernard Shaw Quotes (About Life, Love, Marriage, and Many More)

216 famous and funny george bernard shaw quotes about life love marriage and many more

George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, political activist, and critic. Even after his death in 1950, his influence in the Western theater and politics lives on.

Born in 1856, Shaw was the son of George and Lucinda Shaw. He grew up in a lower-middle-class part of Dublin. Shaw was an avid reader at a young age, but he detested all four schools he attended.

At the age of 20, he left Dublin and moved to London. After years of struggling to establish himself as a writer and playwright, Shaw published his first two novels and started his career as a critic. Though his books weren’t successful, he kept writing creative works. This time, they were mostly plays and soon had his first taste of financial success through his play Arms and the Man.

Besides his career as a playwright, Shaw was also interested in economics and politics. He was a member of the Fabian Society, a British socialist organization. Though in the last few years of the 19th century, Shaw’s political involvement lessened as he focused on writing his plays. And at the end of the 20th century’s first decade, Shaw had a secure reputation as a playwright.

Throughout his life, Shaw wrote 62 plays. Mostly were one-act pieces and almost half of which were full-length plays like Candida, Pygmalion, and Heartbreak House.

Here are several of the best George Bernard Shaw quotes and sayings that reveal his views on life, love, marriage, and many more.

Table of Contents

George Bernard Shaw Quotes About Life

1. “Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.””Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.”

"Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart's desire; the other is to get it." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #life

2. “Life levels all men. Death reveals the eminent.”

3. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

4. “Do not try to live forever. You will not succeed.”

5. “You are going to let the fear of poverty govern you life and your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not live.”

6. “Home life is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo.”

7. “Those who do not know how to live must make a merit of dying.”

8. “Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

9. “The great advantage of a hotel is that it is a refuge from home life.”

10. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #life

11. “Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles.”

12. “Life would be tolerable but for its amusements.”

13. “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake.”

14. “There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.”

15. “Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out. That is what it is for. Spend all you have before you die; do not outlive yourself.”

16. “Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.”

17. “All my life affection has been showered upon me, and every forward step I have made has been taken in spite of it.”

George Bernard Shaw Quotes About Love

1. “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #love

2. “It is a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and the beginning of peace.”

3. “It is most unwise for people in love to marry.”

4. “The love of economy is the root of all virtue.”

5. “A broken heart is a very pleasant complaint for a man in London if he has a comfortable income.”

6. “Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else.”

7. “The perfect love affair is one which is conducted entirely by post.”

8. “First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.”

9. “The fickleness of the women I love is only equaled by the infernal constancy of the women who love me.”

George Bernard Shaw Quotes About Marriage

1. “Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity.”

2. “There is no subject on which more dangerous nonsense is talked and thought than marriage.”

"There is no subject on which more dangerous nonsense is talked and thought than marriage." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #marriage

3. “Marriage is good enough for the lower classes: they have facilities for desertion that are denied to us.”

4. “Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can’t sleep with the window open.”

More George Bernard Shaw Quotes and Sayings

1. “Every man over forty is a scoundrel.”

2. “An asylum for the sane would be empty in America.”

3. “The man with a toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. The poverty-stricken man makes the same mistake about the rich man.”

4. “Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.”

5. “A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell.”

6. “I’m an atheist and I thank God for it.”

7. “Animals are my friends… and I don’t eat my friends.”

8. “The test of a man or woman’s breeding is how they behave in a quarrel.”

"The test of a man or woman's breeding is how they behave in a quarrel." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #test #man #woman

9. “She had lost the art of conversation but not, unfortunately, the power of speech.”

10. “Human beings are the only animals of which I am thoroughly and cravenly afraid.”

11. “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”

12. “When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport; when a tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity.”

13. “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”

14. “He’s a man of great common sense and good taste – meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.”

15. “Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

16. “You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.”

17. “I have to live for others and not for myself: that’s middle-class morality.”

18. “In a battle, all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it’s more dangerous to lose than to win.”

"In a battle, all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it's more dangerous to lose than to win." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #battle #blood #knowledge

19. “If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.”

20. “The frontier between hell and heaven is only the difference between two ways of looking at things.”

21. “Americans adore me and will go on adoring me until I say something nice about them.”

22. “We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.”

23. “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”

24. “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”

25. “The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.”

26. “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.”

27. “No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.”

28. “What a man believes may be ascertained, not from his creed, but from the assumptions on which he habitually acts.”

"What a man believes may be ascertained, not from his creed, but from the assumptions on which he habitually acts." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #man #creed #knowledge

29. “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.”

30. “Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men’s imperfections, and conceal your own.”

31. “I want to be all used up when I die.”

32. “The only service a friend can really render is to keep up your courage by holding up to you a mirror in which you can see a noble image of yourself.”

33. “Man can climb to the highest summits, but he cannot dwell there long.”

34. “It’s so hard to know what to do when one wishes earnestly to do right.”

35. “You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.”

36. “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.”

37. “Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.”

38. “Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”

"Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #happiness #greatness #knowledge

39. “I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.”

40. “Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn’t!”

41. “While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered animals, how can we expect any ideal living conditions on this earth?”

42. “Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self interest backed by force.”

43. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

44. “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”

45. “A man never tells you anything until you contradict him.”

46. “Men have to do some awfully mean things to keep up their respectability.”

47. “The secret to success is to offend the greatest number of people.”

48. “A little learning is a dangerous thing, but we must take that risk because a little is as much as our biggest heads can hold.”

"A little learning is a dangerous thing, but we must take that risk because a little is as much as our biggest heads can hold." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #risk

49. “Science never solves a problem without creating ten more.”

50. “Beauty is a short-lived tyranny.”

51. “A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”

52. “The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.”

53. “Hell is full of musical amateurs.”

54. “Find enough clever things to say, and you’re a Prime Minister; write them down and you’re a Shakespeare.”

55. “A veteran journalist has never had time to think twice before he writes.”

56. “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

57. “What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”

58. “If there was nothing wrong in the world, there wouldn’t be anything for us to do.”

"If there was nothing wrong in the world, there wouldn't be anything for us to do." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #world

59. “Property is organized robbery.”

60. “Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.”

61. “Only on paper has humanity yet achieved glory, beauty, truth, knowledge, virtue, and abiding love.”

62. “A man who has no office to go, to I don’t care who he is, is a trial of which you can have no conception.”

63. “Old men are dangerous: it doesn’t matter to them what is going to happen to the world.”

64. “The faults of the burglar are the qualities of the financier.”

65. “Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.”

66. “A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”

67. “No man who is occupied in doing a very difficult thing, and doing it very well, ever loses his self-respect.”

68. “All great truths begin as blasphemies.”

"All great truths begin as blasphemies." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #truth

69. “There is no satisfaction in hanging a man who does not object to it.”

70. “Baseball has the great advantage over cricket of being sooner ended.”

71. “An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.”

72. “Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.”

73. “Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.”

74. “Better never than late.”

75. “The natural term of the affection of the human animal for its offspring is six years.”

76. “Most people do not pray; they only beg.”

77. “Kings are not born: they are made by artificial hallucination.”

78. “A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence, University education.”

"A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence, University education." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #education

79. “If a woman can, by careful selection of a father and nourishment of herself, produce a citizen with efficient senses, sound organs and a good digestion, she should clearly be secured a sufficient reward for that natural service to make her willing to undertake and repeat it.”

80. “Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”

81. “There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.”

82. “What Englishman will give his mind to politics as long as he can afford to keep a motor car?”

83. “Cruelty would be delicious if one could only find some sort of cruelty that didn’t really hurt.”

84. “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.”

85. “Virtue consists, not in abstaining from vice, but in not desiring it.”

86. “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”

87. “The minority is sometimes right; the majority always wrong.”

88. “What is the use of writing plays, what is the use of writing anything, if there is not a will which finally molds chaos itself into a race of gods.”

 "What is the use of writing plays, what is the use of writing anything, if there is not a will which finally molds chaos itself into a race of gods." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #writing

89. “Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”

90. “Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.”

91. “I am a Christian. That obliges me to be a Communist.”

92. “We are the only real aristocracy in the world: the aristocracy of money.”

93. “There are no secrets better kept than the secrets everybody guesses.”

94. “If all the economists were laid end to end, they’d never reach a conclusion.”

95. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

96. “I have a strong feeling that I shall be glad when I am dead and done for – scrapped at last to make room for somebody better, cleverer, more perfect than myself.”

97. “The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.”

98. “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”

"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #imagination

99. “Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.”

100. “A man of great common sense and good taste – meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.”

101. “My reputation grows with every failure.”

102. “Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty; what is the matter with the rich is Uselessness.”

103. “The heretic is always better dead. And mortal eyes cannot distinguish the saint from the heretic.”

104. “Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.”

105. “Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.”

106. “When a man says money can do anything, that settles it: he hasn’t got any.”

107. “Socialism is the same as Communism, only better English.”

108. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #progress

109. “An index is a great leveler.”

110. “Beauty is all very well at first sight; but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?”

111. “Never fret for an only son, the idea of failure will never occur to him.”

112. “Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family.”

113. “If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example.”

114. “I am afraid we must make the world honest before we can honestly say to our children that honesty is the best policy.”

115. “An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable.”

116. “In heaven an angel is nobody in particular.”

117. “Every person who has mastered a profession is a skeptic concerning it.”

118. “The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.”

"The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #wonder

119. “Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done.”

120. “Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”

121. “The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech.”

122. “I enjoy convalescence. It is the part that makes the illness worth while.”

123. “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’”

124. “There is nothing more dangerous than the conscience of a bigot.”

125. “I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.”

126. “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”

127. “If you injure your neighbor, better not do it by halves.”

128. “Until the men of action clear out the talkers, we who have social consciences are at the mercy of those who have none.”

"Until the men of action clear out the talkers, we who have social consciences are at the mercy of those who have none." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #mercy #men

129. “It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.”

130. “One man that has a mind and knows it can always beat ten men who haven’t and don’t.”

131. “The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.”

132. “Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.”

133. “People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.”

134. “Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.”

135. “Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.”

136. “Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.”

137. “Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.”

138. “Beware of the man who does not return your blow. He neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself.”

"Beware of the man who does not return your blow. He neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #man

139. “We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years and justify our existence… on pain of liquidation.”

140. “Give a man health and a course to steer, and he’ll never stop to trouble about whether he’s happy or not.”

141. “It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics.”

142. “The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.”

143. “The only secrets are the secrets that keep themselves.”

144. “He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”

145. “Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive.”

146. “When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.”

147. “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”

148. “Nothing is worth doing unless the consequences may be serious.”

"Nothing is worth doing unless the consequences may be serious." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #consequences

149. “Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics.”

150. “If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people’s opinions will rush in from all quarters.”

151. “The British soldier can stand up to anything except the British War Office.”

152. “You cannot be a hero without being a coward.”

153. “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

154. “Do not do unto others as you expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

155. “Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman, but believing what he read made him mad.”

156. “Which painting in the National Gallery would I save if there was a fire? The one nearest the door of course.”

157. “Political necessities sometime turn out to be political mistakes.”

158. “The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.”

"The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #believe

159. “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

160. “Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.”

161. “Lack of money is the root of all evil.”

162. “We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.”

163. “Very few people can afford to be poor.”

164. “If women were particular about men’s characters, they would never get married at all.”

165. “It’s easier to replace a dead man than a good picture.”

166. “What is virtue but the Trade Unionism of the married?”

167. “I never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from people.”

168. “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”

"Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #art #world

169. “We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.”

170. “Few of us have vitality enough to make any of our instincts imperious.”

171. “Why, except as a means of livelihood, a man should desire to act on the stage when he has the whole world to act in, is not clear to me.”

172. “The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.”

173. “Syllables govern the world.”

174. “In this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it.”

175. “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them.”

176. “I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.”

177. “The truth is, hardly any of us have ethical energy enough for more than one really inflexible point of honor.”

178. “Martyrdom: The only way a man can become famous without ability.”

"The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not." #georgebernardshaw #quotes #wonder

179. “We must always think about things, and we must think about things as they are, not as they are said to be.”

180. “I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would be an affront to your intelligence.”

181. “Parentage is a very important profession, but no test of fitness for it is ever imposed in the interest of the children.”

182. “Virtue is insufficient temptation.”

183. “You can always tell an old soldier by the inside of his holsters and cartridge boxes. The young ones carry pistols and cartridges; the old ones, grub.”

184. “The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time.”

185. “The art of government is the organization of idolatry.”

186. “When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.”

If you’d like to read some of George Bernard Shaw’s best works, we suggest you read Pygmalion.

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