"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them"
John Philip Kemble as Hamlet, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1802
Public DomainJohn Philip Kemble as Hamlet, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1802 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A famous quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet – it begins with the well-known line: "To be, or not to be - that is the question". Read the full speech here.

The passage has been interpreted in many different ways, from a contemplation of suicide to existential musing.

The German philosopher Nietzsche argued that suffering is a part of human nature; he believed that strength and wisdom arise through overcoming suffering. One theory in his philosophy is that a harsh and testing upbringing will lead to a unique understanding of the world, one that sets a person above and beyond reality:

Man, as the animal that is most courageous, most accustomed to suffering, does not negate suffering as such: he wants it, even seeks it out, provided one shows him some meaning in it, some wherefore of suffering.

– from On A Genealogy of Morals

The discipline of suffering, of great suffering – do you not know that only this discipline has created all enhancements of man so far? That tension of the soul in unhappiness which cultivates its strength, its shudders face to face with great ruin, its inventiveness and courage in enduring, preserving, interpreting, and exploiting suffering, and whatever has been granted to it of profundity, secret, mask, spirit, cunning, greatness – was it not granted to it through suffering, through the discipline of great suffering?

– from Beyond Good and Evil