Literary Quotations
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QUOTES ON WOMEN


It is like a woman indeed
To take rapture before the fact is shown for true.
They believe too easily, are too quick to shift
From ground to ground; and swift indeed
The rumor voiced by a woman dies again.

AESCHYLUS, Agamemnon

Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart.

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, The Scarlet Letter

Women play with their beauty as children do with their knives. They wound themselves with it.

VICTOR HUGO, Les Misérables

Sometimes a woman's love of being loved gets the better of her conscience, and though she is agonized at the thought of treating a man cruelly, she encourages him to love her while she doesn't love him at all. Then, when she sees him suffering, her remorse sets in, and she does what she can to repair the wrong.

THOMAS HARDY, Jude the Obscure

I prefer women with a past. They're always so demmed amusing to talk to.

OSCAR WILDE, Lady Windermere's Fan

I draw you close to me, you women,
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for others' sakes,
Envelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.

WALT WHITMAN, Leaves of Grass

Though women appear to belong to the same species as man, they are actually quite different creatures, and these incomprehensible, insidious beings have, fantastic as it seems, always looked after me. In my case such an expression as "to be fallen for" or even "to be loved" is not in the least appropriate; perhaps it describes the situation more accurately to say that I was "looked after."

OSAMU DAZAI, No Longer Human

Frailty, thy name is woman!

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Hamlet

I never promise a woman anything nor let her know what I'm going to give her. That's the only way to manage them. Always keep them guessing. If you cant think of any other way to surprise them, give them a bust in the jaw.

WILLIAM FAULKNER, The Sound and the Fury

Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

CHARLOTTE BRONTË, Jane Eyre

The only superiority in women that is tolerable to the rival sex is, as a rule, that of the unconscious kind; but a superiority which recognizes itself may sometimes please by suggesting possibilities of capture to the subordinated man.

All pretty girls are a trap, a pretty trap, and men expect them to be.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, The Glass Menagerie

Then you compared a woman's love to Hell,
To barren land where water will not dwell,
And you compared it to a quenchless fire,
The more it burns the more is its desire
To burn up everything that burnt can be.
You say that just as worms destroy a tree
A wife destroys her husband and contrives,
As husbands know, the ruin of their lives.

GEOFFREY CHAUCER, The Canterbury Tales

A woman can only become a man’s friend in three stages: first, she’s an agreeable acquaintance, then a mistress, and only after that a friend.

ANTON CHEKHOV, Uncle Vanya

Of all things upon earth that bleed and grow,
A herb most bruised is woman.

EURIPIDES, Medea

I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me, she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious, and a damned nuisance. I find that the moment I let myself make friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Pygmalion

A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.

JANE AUSTEN, Pride and Prejudice

Woman is ever fickle and changeable.

VIRGIL, The Aeneid

Women upset everything. When you let them into your life, you find that the woman is driving at one thing and you're driving at another.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Pygmalion

If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late? Nobody.

J. D. SALINGER, The Catcher in the Rye

I can't call a woman a woman unless she's clean about the hands and fetlocks, and otherwise well appointed--a lady in short.

PEDRO CALDERON DE LA BARCA, The Mayor of Zalamea

A woman always has her revenge ready.

MOLIÈRE, Tartuffe

I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,
And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.

WALT WHITMAN, Leaves of Grass

It's queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there had never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset.

JOSEPH CONRAD, Heart of Darkness

If a pretty woman only knew how anger improved her beauty! Her complexion needs no other paint than indignation.

PEDRO CALDERON DE LA BARCA, The Mayor of Zalamea

Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the society of clever women.

LEO TOLSTOY, War and Peace

Many worthy women, who would not for the world be found wanting in the matter of personal neatness, seem somehow to have the notion that any study of the arts of personal beauty in family-life is unmatronly; they buy their clothes with simple reference to economy, and have them made up without any question of becomingness; and hence marriage sometimes transforms a charming, trim, tripping young lady into a waddling matron whose every-day toilette suggests only the idea of a feather-bed tied round with a string.

HARRIET BEECHER STOWE, Little Foxes

The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her if she is pretty and to someone else if she is plain.

Aren't we of all god's creatures the most unlucky,
We women? First we have to buy our husbands--
Actually pay for a man to lord it over us...
Think yourself lucky if you get a good one;
It isn't done for women to divorce,
Oh no. And what preparation do we get
For marriage? None. If you do find you're able
To live with him, you're lucky. If you don't,
YOu've had it. Compare us with a man;
If a man no longer fancies the wife he has,
He's off, and battens on to another woman.
But we're chained to one person; everything
Depends on him. Oh I know what they say--
We live a safe, comfortable life at home,
While they go out to war, risk life and limb,
Fighting with swords and spears to protect us.
I'd far rather serve in the front line
A dozen times, than go through childbirth once!

EURIPIDES, Medea

A woman's charm is fifty per cent illusion.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, A Streetcar Named Desire

You cannot control the mincing vanities and giddiness of empty-headed girls; you must not expect to do it, or you will always be disappointed.

CHARLES DICKENS, A Tale of Two Cities

Speak no evil of women; I tell thee the meanest of them deserves respect; for of women do we not all come?

PEDRO CALDERON DE LA BARCA, The Mayor of Zalamea

I was tormented by my desire for a woman ... I thought so much about a woman, about women, about all the ones I had known, about all the circumstances in which I had enjoyed them, that my cell would be filled with their faces and crowded with my desires.

ALBERT CAMUS, The Stranger

Love deceives the best of womankind.

HOMER, The Odyssey

I don't go in for that stuff ... compliments to women about their looks. I never met a woman that didn't know if she was good-looking or not without being told.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, A Streetcar Named Desire

Women don't like violence,
But when their husbands desert them, that is different.

EURIPIDES, Medea

That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy.

J. D. SALINGER, The Catcher in the Rye

Woman, as Nature has created her and as she is currently reared by man, is his enemy and can only be his slave or his despot, but never his companion. She will be able to become his companion only when she has the same rights as he, when she is his equal in education and work.

LEOPOLD VON SACHER-MASOCH, Venus in Furs

Women ... are ever content to build their lives on any incidental position that offers itself; whilst men would fain make a globe to suit them.

THOMAS HARDY, The Return of the Native

There was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, King Lear

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

You women are all the same, if bed's all right,
You think everything else can go to the wind.
But if there's any infringement of your bed-rights,
Then fair is foul and all hell's let loose.

EURIPIDES, Medea

Upon my soul! These women would puzzle the very devil to read them aright.

ALEXANDRE DUMAS, The Count of Monte Cristo

It's risky to take anything on good faith where a woman is concerned.

AUGUST STRINDBERG, The Father

All right ... I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool -- that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, The Great Gatsby

Every woman has the instinct, the propensity to profit from her charms, and there's a lot to be said for giving oneself without love, without pleasure. While doing so, a woman remains quite cold-blooded and can gain her advantage.

LEOPOLD VON SACHER-MASOCH, Venus in Furs

Of nights he heard the rich laughter of the women, tender and cruel, upon the dark porches, heard the florid throat-tones of the men; saw the yielding stealthy harlotry of the South--the dark seclusion of their midnight bodies, their morning innocence. Desire, with bloody beak, tore at his heart like jealous virtue: he was moral for that which was denied him.

THOMAS WOLFE, Look Homeward, Angel

Then let thy love be younger than thyself,
Or thy affection cannot hold the bent;
For women are as roses, whose fair flower
Being once display'd, doth fall that very hour.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Twelfth Night

Women are not
In their best fortunes strong, but want will perjure
the ne'er-touched vestal.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Antony and Cleopatra

I have often felt that I would find it more complicated, troublesome and unpleasant to ascertain the feelings by which a woman lives than to plumb the innermost thoughts of an earthworm.

OSAMU DAZAI, No Longer Human

I know that a woman is a dish for the gods,
if the devil dress her not.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Antony and Cleopatra

Full many a lady
I have eyed with best regard, and many a time
The harmony of their tongue hath into bondage
Brought my too diligent ear: for several virtues
Have I liked several women; never any
With so full soul, but some defect in her
Did quarrel with the noblest grace she owed,
And put it to the foil.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, The Tempest

'Tis nat'ral for women to enter into their husband's victories and defeats.

JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, The Deerslayer

Oh, women, women!... They all have a romantic imagination--everything that savors of mystery charms them.

ALEXANDRE DUMAS, The Three Musketeers

Women are but the toys which amuse our lighter hours.

SIR WALTER SCOTT, Ivanhoe

A house o' women is as dead as a house wi' no fire, to my thinkin'. I'm not a spider as likes to corner myself. I like a man about, if he's only something to snap at.

D.H. LAWRENCE, Sons and Lovers

Despite all the progress of civilization, women have remained exactly as they emerged from the hand of Nature.

LEOPOLD VON SACHER-MASOCH, Venus in Furs

The less you notice them the more they chase after you. There's something perverse about women ... they're all masochists at heart.

HENRY MILLER, Tropic of Cancer

With women, you keep bumping against them, because they want different things; they're a different race. The good ones develop give.

JOHN UPDIKE, Rabbit, Run

A man may as soon make a friend by his wit, or a fortune by his honesty, as win a woman with plain-dealing and sincerity.

WILLIAM CONGREVE, The Way of the World

There is nothing more humanly beautiful than a woman's breasts. Nothing more humanly beautiful, nothing more humanly mysterious than why men should want to caress, over and over again, with paintbrush or chisel or hand, these oddly curved fatty sacs, and nothing more humanly endearing than our complicity (I mean the complicity of women) in their obsession.

J. M. COETZEE, Elizabeth Costello

Women only help me to dream, that's all. It's a vice, like drink or opium. I've got to have a new one every day; if I don't I get morbid.

HENRY MILLER, Tropic of Cancer

A woman's beauty does not belong to her alone. It is part of the bounty she brings into the world. She has a duty to share it.

J. M. COETZEE, Disgrace

I have always found the female of the human species many times more difficult to understand than the male.

OSAMU DAZAI, No Longer Human

In the eighty or ninety years I have given to this subject, trying to trace out the meanderings of their twisty little minds, the only thing that I have learned for certain about women is that when a gal is gonna, she's gonna. All a man can do is cooperate with the inevitable.

ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, Stranger in a Strange Land

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