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  • Donald E. Hester

Character Quotes

Greetings, most excellent readers! Today's blog post is dedicated to the fascinating topic of character. As we all know, character is the foundation upon which a person's moral and ethical makeup is built. It comprises of an individual's values, beliefs, and behaviors and shapes how they interact with the world around them. In this post, I have curated a collection of quotes that I find particularly inspiring for the value and virtue of character. So without further ado, let's dive into these wise words and explore how they can help us develop and strengthen our character.

Character is Actions Aligning

"People watch what you do, not what you say." - unknown

"A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends." - George Washington

“Nothing is noble if it’s done unwillingly or under compulsion. Every noble deed is voluntary.” - Seneca, Moral Letters, 66.16b

"When men and women who claim to model the message of Christ defect from that message, either by their actions or the statements that fall from their lips, they leave a destructive wake in the body of Christ." - Dr. Charles R. Swindoll

"Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruit of his character." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Actions, looks, words and steps form the alphabet by which you may spell character." - Johann Kasper Lavater

Forming Character

"Our character is the sum of our habits." - Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life

"Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts." - Marcus Aurelius

"You become the sum of your actions, and as you do, what flows from that— your impulses— reflect the actions you’ve taken. Choose wisely." - Ryan Holiday

"Thou givest Thy Son to die for me, and has given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerely endeavoring to conform my life to His holy precepts and example" - George Washington (age 20)

"Be great in act, as you have been in thought." - William Shakespeare

"You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one."

- Henry David Thoreau

"Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company." - George Washington

"Sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny." - George Dana Boardman

"Talents are best nurtured in solitude. Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world."

- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

"Every man, as to character, is the creature of the age in which he lives. Very few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of their times." - Voltaire

"It is of little traits that the greatest human character is composed." - William Winter

"Character is, for the most part, simply habit become fixed." - C. H. Parkhurst

"We are builders of our own characters. We have different positions, spheres, capacities, privileges, different work to do in the world, different temporal fabrics to raise; but we are all alike in this, -- all are architects of fate." - John Fothergill Waterhouse Ware

"Let us not say, Every man is the architect of his own fortune; but let us say, Every man is the architect of his own character." - George Dana Boardman

Testing Character

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

"Character is not made in a crisis; it is only exhibited." - Robert Freeman

"A man is free in proportion to the measure of his virtues, and the extent to which he is free determines what his virtues can accomplish." - John of Salisbury

"Stand with the philosopher, or else with the mob!” - Epictetus, Discourses, 3.15.13

"Is goodness indeed so far away? If we really wanted Goodness, we should find that it was at our very side." - Confucius

"It requires less character to discover the faults of others, than to tolerate them." - J. Petit Senn

"Our character is but the stamp on our souls of the free choices of good and evil we have made through life." - John C. Geikie

"In the stormy current of life characters are weights or floats which at one time make us glide along the bottom, and at another maintain us on the surface." - Hippolyte Taine

"Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard. It is in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feelings of others and denies nothing to itself." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Character and Reputation

"The verdict of the scrupulous historian after years of unremitting inquiry is that, as nearly as can be in human life, the legend and the man were identical." - (About George Washington) Douglas Southall Freeman

"Character is much easier kept than recovered…" - Thomas Paine

"Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us." - Thomas Paine

"Be your character what it will, it will be known, and nobody will take it upon your word." - Lord Chesterfield

"A good name will shine forever." - Proverb

"A fair reputation is a plant, delicate in its nature, and by no means rapid in its growth. It will not shoot up in a night like the gourd of the prophet; but, like that gourd, it may perish in a night." -Jeremy Taylor

"Reputation is for time; character is for eternity." - J. B. Gough

"Characters do not change. Opinions alter, but characters are only developed." - Benjamin Disraeli

Character is Essential

"[A] good moral character is the first essential in a man..." - George Washington

"Character is higher than intellect... A great soul will be strong to live, as well as to think." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The essential thing is not knowledge, but character." - Joseph Le Conte

"Character is a diamond that scratches every other stone." - Cyrus A. Bartol

"Character and personal force are the only investments that are worth anything." - Walt Whitman

Other Quotes About Character

"Principles and pragmatism are not at odds." - Ryan Holiday

"Sin does not serve well as gardener of the soul. It landscapes the contour of the soul until all that is beautiful has been made ugly; until all that is high is made low; until all that is promising is wasted. Then life is like a desert— parched and barren. It is drained of purpose. It is bleached of happiness. Sin, then, is not wise, but wasteful. It is not a gate, but only a grave." - C. Neil Strait

“Character is fate.” - Heraclitus

"Nothing of character is really permanent but virtue and personal worth." - Daniel Webster

"Every human being is intended to have a character of his own; to be what no others are, and to do what no other can do." - William Henry Channing

"Fate is character." - William Winter


Last Update April 2023


Ladies and gentlemen, please lend me your ears and your minds for a moment. As a diligent collector of quotes, I have taken it upon myself to compile them into neat categories for my recall and your perusal. However, I must caution you that my selection process is based solely on the words themselves, not the context or author behind them. So please, don't go reading into my quotes as an endorsement of the original source material. As the great Stoic philosopher Seneca once put it, "I’ll never be ashamed to quote a bad writer with a good saying."

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