60 of the Most Memorable Charlie Chaplin Quotes

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Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was a popular comic actor and writer in the silent film age in America. Chaplin grew up poor, and lived in a workhouse several times. His mother died when he was young, and he lived on the streets, performing when he could. He eventually went to work for a company that brought him to America and began to act in silent films. He was quite well known for his popular character, “the Tramp” although he branched out later in life to other characters.

During the ’40s and ’50s, Charlie Chaplin became known for his strong dislike of dictatorship and capitalism. He believed that greed had ruined society. He was not afraid of voicing his views, and this led to his investigation by the FBI for promoting communism. He was eventually banned from the United States, and he had no desire to return. Chaplin was appointed a Knight in 1975 and recognized throughout much of the world as one of the most important influences in the film industry.

Charlie Chaplin Quotes

Here are 70 of the most influential Charlie Chaplin quotes.

  1. “We must laugh in the face of our helplessness against the forces of nature — or go insane.”
  2. “Your naked body should only belong to those who fall in love with your naked soul.”
  3. “Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease from pain.”
  4. “I hope we shall abolish war and settle all differences at the conference table.”
  5. “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.”
  6. “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”
  7. “We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity; more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.”
  8. “Life is a play that does not allow testing. So, sing, cry, dance, laugh and live intensely, before the curtain closes and the piece ends with no applause.”
  9. “I suppose that’s one of the ironies of life – doing the wrong thing at the right moment.”
  10. “What a sad business, being funny.”
  11. “In the light of our egos, we are all dethroned monarchs.”
  12. “Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish.”
  13. “Perfect love is the most beautiful of all frustrations because it is more than one can express.”
  14. “That’s the trouble with the world. We all despise ourselves.”
  15. “Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind into indifference.”
  16. “My pain may be the reason for somebody’s laugh. But my laugh must never be the reason for somebody’s pain.”
  17. “Machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate: only the unloved hate, the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers, don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty! You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure! Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world . . .”
  18. “We must laugh in the face of our helplessness against the forces of nature — or go insane.”
  19. “The world is not composed of heroes and villains, but of men and women with all the passions that God has given them. The ignorant condemn, but the wise pity.”
  20. “Think about yourself at least once in your life otherwise you may miss the best comedy in this world.”
  21. “I believe in the power of laughter and tears as an antidote to hatred and terror.”
  22. “Movies are a fad. Audiences really want to see live actors on a stage.”
  23. “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.”
  24. “A man’s true character comes out when he’s drunk.”
  25. “The deeper the truth in a creative work, the longer it will live.”
  26. “In the end, everything is a gag.”
  27. “Words are cheap. The biggest thing you can say is ‘elephant’.”
  28. “I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.”
  29. “Simplicity of approach is always best.”
  30. “Let us strive for the impossible. The great achievements throughout history have been the conquest of what seemed the impossible.”
  31. “All artists experience a lull in their work. It is a period of replenishing the soil – of plowing in and turning under our past experiences and watering them afresh with new ones.”
  32. “In this world there is room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, and has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.”
  33. “Actors search for rejection. If they don’t get it they reject themselves.”
  34. “Beauty is the spirit of all things, an exaltation, a psalm of life and death, of good and evil, of vileness and purity, of joy and pain, of hate and love—all of it incarnate in the object we see or hear. It is an empathy, a feeling into art or nature that we observe—all of it a singing harmony to our senses.”
  35. “We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that.”
  36. “How does one get ideas? By sheer perseverance to the point of madness.”
  37. “That which is apparent ends. That which is subtle is never-ending.”
  38. “All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl.”
  39. “It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.”
  40. “Too much kindness and respect are given to the unseen and not enough to humanity. It seems that in our nature we loathe each other and bestow our respect and love on the abstract.”
  41. “I hope that the entertainment I give has some lasting effect on people. I hope they see the beauty that I myself am seeking. I am trying to express a beauty that embraces not only physical characteristics and scenes, but the true fundamental emotions of humanity. Beauty. Beauty is what I am after.”
  42. “A day without laughing is a day wasted.”
  43. “What do you want meaning for? Life is desire, not meaning!”
  44. “I like to walk in rain, so that nobody can see my tears.”
  45. “Wisdom usually grows up on us like calluses when we are old, gnarled and bent.”
  46. “Life and death are too resolute, too implacable to be accidental.”
  47. “The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”
  48. “Worry more about your conscience than your reputation. Because your conscience is what you are, your reputation is what others think of you. And what others think of you is their problem.”
  49. “Simplicity of approach is always best.”
  50. “I am what I am: an individual, unique and different.”
  51. The persecution of any minority is inhuman and unnatural. That belief is timeless and beyond change.”
  52. “Art was an additional emotion applied to skillful technique.”
  53. “I am not a political man and I have no political convictions. I am an individual and a believer in liberty. That is all the politics I have.”
  54. “Who feeds a hungry animal feeds his own soul.”
  55. “Faith is a precursor of all our ideas.”
  56. “There are more valid facts and details in works of art than there are in history books.”
  57. “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.”
  58. “Over the years I have discovered that ideas come through an intense desire for them; continually desiring, the mind becomes a watch-tower on the look-out for incidents that may excite the imagination – music, a sunset, may give image to an idea.”
  59. “If you’re really truthful with yourself, it’s a wonderful guidance.”
  60. “I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.”
  61. You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.”
  62. “You have to believe in yourself, that’s the secret. Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world. I had to feel the exuberance that comes from utter confidence in yourself. Without it, you go down to defeat.”
  63. “Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”
  64. “The mirror is my best friend because when I cry it never laughs.”
  65. “Restraint is a great word, not only for actors but for everybody to remember. Restraint of tempers, appetites, desires, bad habits, and so on, is a mighty good thing to cultivate.”
  66. “Life can be wonderful if you’re not afraid of it. All it takes is courage, imagination … and a little dough.”
  67. “Simplicity is a difficult thing to achieve.”
  68. “All my pictures are built around the idea of getting in trouble and so giving me the chance to be desperately serious in my attempt to appear as a normal little gentleman.”
  69. “A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.”
  70. “As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART.”


Charlie Chaplin is widely recognized as a pioneer of the film industry. He now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Although his personal and professional lives were troubled at times, he always understood the importance of laughter as a release from the difficulties of life. He was both a political activist and a very clever actor. We can all gain benefit from his words, and use these influential quotes to help us live our best lives.

Image Credit: P.D Jankens / Public domain

Charlie Chaplin Video – The Mirror Maze (The Circus)

This is a very famous short clip that will give you a sense of Charlie Chaplin’s legacy and how he had amazing screen presence back in the black and white era of movies.