Shakespeare was the ultimate expert on love. Here's his 5 essential tips



A wise man once wrote that the course of true love never runs smooth – but fear not! That wise man was Mr William Shakespeare, and his plays reveal the rookie mistakes, misadventures, and missteps to avoid so that you can win the heart of your true love this Valentine’s Day.

By Andy McLean

1. Take things slow to begin with

Whenever Romeo meets a girl who takes his fancy, he jumps off the deep end. At the start of Romeo and Juliet, he’s besotted with a girl named Rosaline. But the second he meets Juliet, not only does Romeo change his mind – he completely loses his mind too. Within four days he gets married, loses his virginity, kills Juliet’s cousin, gets banished from Verona, and then commits suicide.

Love lesson from Shakespeare: Easy tiger. Slow down. Instead of rushing headlong into a romance, take time to get to know your new flame.

2. Never send your hot friend to deliver your love messages

Orsino may be Duke of Illyria, but he’s incredibly shy when it comes to matters of the heart. So instead of trying to chat up Olivia himself, he sends Cesario to deliver sweet nothings on his behalf. It doesn’t take a soothsayer to predict what happens next: Olivia takes a shine to Cesario instead of Orsino – which almost turns Twelfth Night from a classic comedy into a downright tragedy.

Love lesson from Shakespeare: Fortune favours the brave. Go directly to the object of your affection and tell them how you feel. Well, what are you waiting for? Go on. Do it now!

3. Don’t let your lover talk you into anything too crazy

Okay, we get it. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have got a good thing going on. He calls her his “dearest partner of greatness”, and most experts agree that Macbeth includes one of the strongest marriages in Shakespeare. But that’s kind of the problem. When Lady Macbeth wants her husband to commit murder, she knows exactly which of his buttons to push. She questions his masculinity, and – before you know it – he’s seeing imaginary daggers, shouting at ghosts, and embarking on a mass killing spree.

Love lesson from Shakespeare: No matter how much you love someone – no matter how hard they tug on your heartstrings – never forget the difference between right and wrong.

4. Never turn your back on your friends

Of all the characters in all of Shakespeare, you’d think that Mark Antony would know that you should never, ever turn your back on your friends. Antony has seen his mate learn that the hard way in Julius Caesar (where the eponymous Roman ruler is literally stabbed in the back by his allies). But in the sort-of sequel, Antony and Cleopatra, Antony is so lovestruck that he turns his back on his Roman allies. Octavius Caesar duly thrashes Antony’s army and drives him and his beloved Cleopatra to commit suicide.

Love lesson from Shakespeare: No matter how loved up you feel now, your relationship with your sweetheart may one day turn sour. If or when that happens, you’ll need good friends around you. So, never turn your back on them.

5. Beware of smooth-talking players

Look, you’ve got to hand it to the guy. When it comes to seduction, Richard of Gloucester never lets the facts get in the way of a good conquest. Yes, he’s killed Lady Anne’s husband. True, he’s murdered Lady Anne’s father-in-law too. But ever the optimist, Richard still has the hots for Lady Anne, so he flirts, begs, and self-flagellates until – against all the odds – he wins her heart. (Needless to say, Richard III doesn’t end well for Lady Anne.)

Love lesson from Shakespeare: When someone is chatting you up, judge them by their actions, not their words. Also: trust your gut. And if in doubt? Run like hell.

Give the gift of love this Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air across Australia in 2023, with some of Shakespeare’s greatest romantic stories unfolding on stage. As well as Romeo and Juliet, Bell Shakespeare presents Macbeth and Twelfth Night in 2023. This Valentine’s Day, why not treat the one you love to a night at the theatre?

2 for 1 tickets for you and your beloved

Because we love love at Bell Shakespeare, we are offering 2 for 1 tickets to anyone who books on Valentine’s Day.
Valid for Tuesday to Thursday evening performances at all Bell Shakespeare productions currently on sale at Sydney Opera House, Arts Centre Melbourne or Canberra Theatre Centre. You must book before midnight 14 February 2023. Enter the code BELL50OFF and the 50% discount will be automatically applied.
This offer does not apply to package purchases. Limited allocation. Head to your preferred venue to book your ticket.

Packages, single tickets, and gift vouchers are on sale now.

See the Bell Shakespeare website for full details of all 2023 events.