‘Sweet are the uses of adversity’ is an of-quoted line. This proverb is common which a man in adversity generally remembers and gets consolation. This oft-quoted line has been extracted from ‘As you like it’, a famous comedy written by William Shakespeare, the greatest poet of English literature and the greatest dramatist of the world literature, the mighty seer and shrewd philosopher with profoundly penetrative insight into human life. The poet says

“Sweet are the uses of Adversity,

Which like the toad, ugly and venomous

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.”

These lines were uttered by the Duke who in the troubled waters in the forest of Arden. The Duke got consolation uttering these lines and he believed ‘0’.

People are afraid of difficulties. The people shun difficulties and want to lead a life of luxury and comfort. But Shakespeare held a different opinion. For him adversity is a blessing in disguise. Adversity is very sweet if we face it boldly. He compares adversity to toad which is very ugly and poisonous, yet it bears a jewel in its head. So also we are afraid of adversity but actually it is an indication of our bright days. It is not a curse as is generally supposed. Shakespeare, the most sagacious of the literary prophets of his age interpreted the impact of adversity on man’s life in a very different sense. Actually, the uses of adversity are very sweet.

Difficulties make a man

We must remember that it is not ease that makes a man, but it is adversity. The greatest difficulties, the greatest inventions and the valuable thoughts have always been pondered over in difficulties and conformed by adversity. Adversity is the real test of character. One who faces difficulties comes out of the encounter better and abler. They are like a hard school mistresses who prove to be the best teachers and guide. Such a school mistress who is hard-task mistress is not liked by the students in the beginning, but actually she shapes the life and molds the character of the students. The adversity trains and develops the natural faculties of a man. We all know that the sweet herbs do not give fragrance until they are crushed and rubbed. So the real worth of a man is known when he is crushed and rubbed by adversity. Adversity is a ladder leading to heaven. No great thing can be achieved without facing adversity. Those who lead a life of ease, comfort and luxury can do nothing in the world. Actually adversity is an encouragement to the men of pluck and determination. It frightens only those men who are fickle minded and weak.

Some examples of ‘sweet are the uses of adversity’

Thousands of examples can be given in its favour. History of the world bears a glowing testimony to the fact that all the famous men of the world were nurtured in adversity. They were born and brought up in poverty.” Emerson says, “Poverty is the most perfect of all institutions.” John Ruskin says. “Adversity is the academy of the talented and the wise.” John Milton, the greatest classical poet of 17th century of English literature, called joy illusive and false. He welcomed sorrow wholeheartedly. He was of the opinion that adversity was the eternal companion of the wisest. He hailed sorrow –

“But hail the goddess sad and holy,

Hail divines Melancholy.”

Socrates was of the opinion, “Where there is no darkness of adversity, where there is no pang of misery, there can be no light of heavenly radiance of God’s blessing.” As such we see that man can not be perfectly happy without facing adversity. Adversity, misery ant poverty are the milestones in the great journey to the goal of life’s perfection. The aim of the ancient days’ education was to bring about a sweet harmony between man and adversity.

Many examples of many great personalities can be quoted here who faced adversity and became men of fame. Karl Marx in his early life, who was disowned by his father, had to strave for at least two days a week. George Washington, the first American President in his childhood has to earn his bread by sweeping floors of various shops. Shakespeare himself used to look after the horse of the per sons who used to see drama. Abraham Lincoln had to help his father in cutting woods but later on he became President of America. Goldsmith was very poor. John Keats, too, was smitten with the arrow of poverty. William Cobbet learnt grammar, while he was very poor, working as a soldier and facing many difficulties.

We can see so many men of our own country who faced adversity while they were on the path of achieving some high place in the society. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar used to stand on the road to get the pole light to read. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya was also not of a well-to-do family but the fruit of his facing adversity can be seen today in the form of the Banaras Hindu University, the second among the world universities. Dadabhai Naoroji has also to suffer much before he could get some place in the society.

How can we forget that our late Lal Bahadur Shastri did not get even two meals a day and once he had to cross the dangerous Ganga from Ram Nagar to Varanasi as he had nothing to pay to the ferry ? He had to take refuge under his maternal uncle and had to face perhaps the greatest miseries of the world. He was fatherless and very poor but he rose to the highest post of the Indian Government and he headed the Government very successfully. In the end he became immortal on account of his selfless honest and self sacrificing service. The Indians had to race a large number of troubles before they got freedom.

We can see the importance of adversity in the words of great saints and prophets of the world, “Where tears of sorrow stricken are shed, angels tread on” says St. John. Oskar Wilde says “Where there is no sorrow, there is no God.” Martin Luther before his death said, “Embrace the darkness of Adversity; go through the mist of misfortune if you desire to embrace him,” Socrates at the time of his death uttered, “There is no victory, if there were adversity.”


Seeing all these things, we come to the conclusion that actually adversity is a blessing in disguise. Adversity makes one to realize the reality of life. It is adversity which takes us to the abode of success. The cornet of sorrow is one, which lives on ones head for ever. Highest laurels of life are won by who fight the toughest battles of misfortune.

As such we can also say that Shakespeare has rightly sung that sweet are the uses of adversity. Difficulties vanish when they are faced boldly. What appears to be an insurmountable mountain, dis appears before a hold attempt.

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