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quotations about character

The world will find out that part of your character which concerns it: that which especially concerns yourself, it will leave for you to discover.

ARTHUR HELPS, Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd

Riches I may owe to Fortune; beauty, to my parents; but character I can owe only to myself.

IVAN PANIN, Thoughts

A man can never do anything at variance with his own nature. He carries within him the germ of his most exceptional action; and if we wise people make eminent fools of ourselves on any particular occasion, we must endure the legitimate conclusion that we carry a few grains of folly to our ounce of wisdom.


We generally turn the sunny side of our character towards the public; the shady side towards home.


Character has more effect than anything else. Let a number of loud-talking men take up a particular question, and one man of character, of known integrity and beauty of soul, will outweigh them all in his influence.

E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words

By nothing do men show their character more than by the things they laugh at.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe

One who stultifies his own character in desperate attempts to please everybody is called a "Gentleman."

ABRAHAM MILLER, Unmoral Maxims

The difficulty of repairing character tempts men sometimes to neglect it; and the ease with which it is at other times established, is the true reason of its frequent default.

NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections

Fortunes are made by taking opportunities: character is made by making them.

IVAN PANIN, Thoughts

Character, like porcelain-ware, must be painted before it is glazed. There can be no change of color after it is burned in.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

The greatest architecture is building character.

LEWIS F. KORNS, Thoughts

We never know a great character until something congenial to it has grown up within ourselves.


You cannot build up a character in a solitude; you need a formed character to stand a solitude.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

It is an error to suppose that no man understands his own character. Most persons know even their failings very well, only they persist in giving them names different from those usually assigned by the rest of the world; and they compensate for this mistake by naming, at first sight, with singular accuracy, those very same failings in others.

ARTHUR HELPS, Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd

There are sometimes beauties in a character which would never have appeared but for a defect, and defects which would never have appeared but for a beauty.

FULKE GREVILLE, Maxims, Characters, and Reflections

For almost every character I’ve played in the 43 years I’ve been working as a professional actor, I’ve found parts of myself. We are all bipolar in the tiniest essence of what it is. We are all multiple personalities, in a sense, and to be healthy mentally, I think, learning what those multiple personalities are and inviting them in your life is really important.

SALLY FIELD, Ability Magazine, Feb. 2009

It is quite impossible to understand the character of a person from one action, however striking that action may be.

ARTHUR HELPS, Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd

Concerning character, we sometimes judge of the whole by its parts.

NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections

Character, like wine or cold tea in a bottle, takes its shape from the environment.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

Character calls forth character.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe

Every character is in some respects uniform, and in others inconsistent; and it is only by the study both of the uniformity and inconsistency, and a comparison of them with each other, that the knowledge of man is acquired.

FULKE GREVILLE, Maxims, Characters and Reflections

Men love to contradict their general character. Thus a man is of a gloomy and suspicious temperament, is deemed by all morose, and ere long finds out the general opinion. He then suddenly deviates into some occasional acts of courtesy. Why? Not because he ought, not because his nature is changed; but because he dislikes being thoroughly understood. He will not be the thing whose behaviour on any occasion the most careless prophet can with certainty foretell.

ARTHUR HELPS, Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd

Character is what a person is in the dark.

GRENVILLE KLEISER, Dictionary of Proverbs

Every man professes a thorough knowledge of his own character and disposition; yet it is impossible for anyone to know himself perfectly: pride conceals much of our nature, and conceit intercepts the rules of inquiry.

NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections

Now, as Nature made every man with a nose and eyes of his own, she gave him a character of his own too; and yet we, O foolish race! must try our very best to ape some one or two of our neighbours, whose ideas fit us no more than their breeches! It is the study of nature, surely, that provits us, and not of these imitations of her. A man, as a man, from a dustman up to Aeschylus, is God's work, and good to read, as all works of Nature are: but the silly animal is never content; is ever trying to fit itself into another shape; wants to deny its own identity, and has not the courage to utter its own thoughts.

WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY, Extracts from the Writings of W. M. Thackeray

There are often two characters of a man--that which is believed in by people in general, and that which he enjoys among his associates. It is supposed, but vainly, that the latter is always a more accurate approximation to the truth, whereas in reality it is often a part which he performs to admiration: while the former is the result of certain minute traits, certain inflexions of voice and countenance, which cannot be discussed, but are felt as it were instinctively by his domestics and by the outer world. The impressions arising from these slight circumstances he is able to efface from the minds of his constant companions, or from habit they have ceased to observe them.

ARTHUR HELPS, Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd

A great and frequent error in our judgment of human nature is to suppose that those sentiments and feelings have no existence, which may be only for a time concealed. The precious metals are not found at the surface of the earth, except in sandy places.

ARTHUR HELPS, Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd

The crown and glory of life is Character. It is the noblest possession of a man, constituting a rank in itself, and an estate in the general goodwill; dignifying every station, and exalting every position in society. It exercises a greater power than wealth, and secures all the honour without the jealousies of fame. It carries with it an influence which always tells; for it is the result of proved honour, rectitude, and consistency — qualities which, perhaps more than any other, command the general confidence and respect of mankind.


A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

JAMES ALLEN, As a Man Thinketh

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