"Shakespeare was fantastically comprehensive in where he went for all his stories. He knew how to borrow and he knew how to be inspired."He also said:
"The Barge speech in Thomas North’s ‘Lives of the Ancient Romans’, Shakespeare pilfers fairly comprehensively. He scattered his gatherings but always, always transforming."Steven Greenblatt wrote in the Telegraph about the move of ideas from Montaigne to Shakespeare:
"The borrowing extends beyond certain expressions – kind of traffic, name of magistrate, use of service, and the like – to a vision of a whole society organised on principles directly counter to those in place in the familiar, grim realm of contemporary European reality. That is, here [The Tempest] as in the case of King Lear, Shakespeare is mining Florio’s Montaigne not simply for turns of phrase but for key concepts central to the play in question."He continued:
"Scholars have seen Montaigne’s fingerprints on many other works by Shakespeare, whether in the echoing of words or ideas. When Hamlet exclaims to his mother, “Ecstasy? My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time,” (III .iv.130–31), Shakespeare may have picked up a hint from Montaigne’s “during his ecstasy, he seemed to have neither pulse nor breath” from “Of the Force of Imagination.” And Polonius’s “This above all: to thine own self be true” may owe something to “That above all, he be instructed to yield, yea to quit his weapons unto truth” from “Of the Institution of Education of Children.” More broadly, there is something strikingly Montaigne-like in Hamlet’s intertwining of Stoicism — “Give me that man / That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him / In my heart’s core” — (III .ii.64–66) with philosophical skepticism — “And yet to me what is this quintessence of dust?” — (II .ii.297–98) and inner acceptance — “If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.” (V.ii.158–60)...But what is a problem for the scholarly attempt to establish a clear line of influence is, from the perspective of the common reader, a source of deep pleasure. Two of the greatest writers of the Renaissance — two of the greatest writers the world has ever known — were at work almost at the same time, reflecting on the human condition and inventing the stylistic means to register their subtlest perceptions in language."