What A Piece of work is man
What A Piece of work is man : Phrases
Man is a supreme creature.
From Shakespeare's Hamlet, 1603:
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
you seem to say so.
More recently, in the 20th century, the phrase 'a real piece of work' has been coined. This means almost exactly the opposite of Shakespeare's meaning, i.e. 'a really bad person, lacking morality and scruples'.