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Hypocrites Are Everywhere: A Quote Compendium

"I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.' -- Oscar Wilde (Creative Commons)
"I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.' -- Oscar Wilde (Creative Commons)
This article is more than 5 years old.

Our April 14 hour on hypocrisy might have left you wondering: just what IS a hypocrite? And what have famous literary lights said about hypocrisy throughout the years?

In case you had such a thought, the fine folks at Harper's Magazine (and a few of our production staff) gathered some quippy quotes around the wider literary world exploring the art and effects of hypocrisy.

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"Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits." — Mark Twain

"I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy." --Oscar Wilde

"Every man alone is sincere...At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy behinds." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The majority of men are strangely made, And their true nature rarely displayed." — Cleante (Moliere's Tartuffe)

"If you want to know the right thing to do, simply do what is most difficult." — Rainer Maria Rilke

"A hypocrite despises those whom he deceives, but has no respect for himself. He would make a dupe of himself too, if he could. " — William Hazlitt

"The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that's also a hypocrite." — Tennessee Williams

"Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." — Hannah Arendt

"Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)" — Walt Whitman ("Leaves Of Grass")

Sonnet 138 By William Shakespeare

When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor'd youth,
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress'd.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be.

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