Shakespeare Quotations on Greed

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A man can no more separate age and covetousness than a’
can part young limbs and lechery.
2 Henry IV 1.2.226-7, Falstaff

Marry, sir, lullaby to your bounty till I come
again. I go, sir; but I would not have you to think
that my desire of having is the sin of covetousness:
but, as you say, sir, let your bounty take a nap, I
will awake it anon.
Twelfth Night 5.1.42-6, Clown to Duke Orsino

With this there grows
In my most ill-composed affection such
A stanchless avarice that, were I king,
I should cut off the nobles for their lands,
Desire his jewels and this other’s house:
And my more-having would be as a sauce
To make me hunger more; that I should forge
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
Destroying them for wealth.
Macbeth 4.3.91-99, Malcolm to Macduff in an attempt to prove Macduff’s loyalty to Scotland

If I were covetous, ambitious or perverse,
As he will have me, how am I so poor?
1 Henry VI 3.1.30-1, Bishop of Winchester to Gloucester

Thy ambition,
Thou scarlet sin, robb’d this bewailing land.
Henry VIII 3.2.306-7, Surrey

I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
That has a name.
Macbeth 4.3.70-3, Malcolm speaking to Macduff about Macbeth

Thou are not for the fashion of these times,
Where none will sweat but for promotion
As You Like It 2.3.61-2, Orlando to Adam

See, sons, what things you are,
How quickly nature falls into revolt
When gold becomes her object.
2 Henry IV 4.5.64-6, Henry to Gloucester and Clarence

Wilt thou be lord of the whole world?
Antony and Cleopatra 2.7.65, Menas to Pompey

Third Fisherman: Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.
First Fisherman: Why, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones.
Pericles 2.1.69-70

Lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round.
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend.
Julius Caesar 2.1.23-7, Brutus

Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
And falls on the other.
Macbeth 1.7.28-9, Macbeth

To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean.
Measure for Measure 2.4.118, Isabella to Angelo

So that in venturing ill we leave to be
The things we are for that which we expect;
And this ambitious foul infirmity,
In having much, torments us with defect
Of that we have: so then we do neglect
The thing we have; and, all for want of wit,
Make something nothing by augmenting it.
The Rape of Lucrece 148-4