Futures, Volume 87, 1 March 2017,
Sustainability theory shows that the sustainability problem is a value orientation problem. In a recent study, Klaas van Egmond identified an underlying pattern of a crossed circle, representing affirmative and adversative value orientations, whose disintegration engenders unsustainable tendencies. This article explicates how Shakespeare's allegories invite to quests for ‘values worthy of pursuit’, grounded upon a similar immanent cyclical pattern of value orientations, moving from and to the centre of Shakespeare's works. Holding up the allegorical mirror to contemporary sustainability challenges, Shakespeare's works anticipate sustainability narratives for society at large and its individual actors. The results of this research are highly relevant in the contemporary debates on the ‘erosion’ of European values, as it demonstrates how to identify sustained European value patterns and how to build on these patterns in relation with contemporary questions of sustainability.