61+ Best Moby Dick Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is an 1851 novel by American writer Herman Melville. The book is the sailor Ishmael’s narrative of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the giant white sperm whale that on the ship’s previous voyage bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee. Profoundly inspirational Moby Dick quotes will brighten up your day and make you feel ready to take on anything.

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Famous Moby Dick Quotes

Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic. — Moby Dick

There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. — Moby Dick

Long exile from Christendom and civilization inevitably restores a man to that condition in which God placed him, i.e. what is called savagery. — Moby Dick

Truth hath no confines. — Moby Dick

All the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do—remember that—and hence, he oftener commands us than endeavors to persuade. — Moby Dick

See how elastic our prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them. — Ishmael

Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever. — Ishmael

Death is only a launching into the region of the strange Untried; it is but the first salutation to the possibilities of the immense Remote, the Wild, the Watery, the Unshored. — Moby Dick

A laugh’s the wisest, easiest answer to all that’s queer. — Moby Dick

In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers. — Moby Dick

There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath. — Ishmael

We ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all. — Moby Dick

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it. — Moby Dick

Think not, is my eleventh commandment; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth. — Captain Ahab-Stubb

It is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, everpresent perils of life. — Moby Dick

Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form. — Captain Ahab-Ishmael

My body is but the lees of my better being. — Ishmael

Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me. — Captain Ahab-Starbuck

Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe. — Moby Dick

I try all things, I achieve what I can. — Ishmael

All mortal greatness is but disease. — Ishmael

The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser. — Moby Dick

Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian. — Moby Dick

God help thee, old man, thy thoughts have created a creature in thee; and he whose intense thinking thus makes him a Prometheus; a vulture feeds upon that heart forever; the vulture the very creature he creates. — Captain Ahab-Ishmael

Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like death. — Moby Dick

Immortality is but ubiquity in time. — Moby Dick

But oh! shipmates! on the starboard hand of every woe, there is a sure delight; and higher the top of that delight, than the bottom of the woe is deep. — Moby Dick

As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. — Ishmael

And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid. — Moby Dick

There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method. — Moby Dick

All my means are sane, my motive and my object mad. — Captain Ahab-Ishmael

Man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God. — Moby Dick

Heaven have mercy on us all – Presbyterians and Pagans alike – for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending. — Ishmael

Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope. — Moby Dick

Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk Christian. — Ishmael-Queequeg

The gods themselves are not for ever glad. The ineffaceable, sad birth-mark in the brow of man, is but the stamp of sorrow in the signers. — Moby Dick

There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own. — Moby Dick

There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. — Moby Dick

Be sure of this, O young ambition, all mortal greatness is but disease. — Moby Dick

Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents’ beds, unerringly I rush! Naught’s an obstacle, naught’s an angle to the iron way! — Captain Ahab

But as in landlessness alone resides the highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God—so, better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety! — Moby Dick

There is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men. — Moby Dick

Ignorance is the parent of fear. — Ishmael

Delight is to him—a far, far upward, and inward delight—who against the proud gods and commodores of this earth, ever stands forth his own inexorable self. — Moby Dick

Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it. — Moby Dick

It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to look as if he had a great secret in him. — Ishmael-Elijah

To think’s audacity. God only has that right and privilege. Thinking is, or ought to be, a coolness and a calmness; and our poor hearts throb, and our poor brains beat too much for that. — Moby Dick

The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition! — Moby Dick

For there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men — Ishmael

Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? — Moby Dick

I am past scorching; not easily can’st thou scorch a scar. — Captain Ahab-Perth

For to go as a passenger you must needs have a purse, and a purse is but a rag unless you have something in it. — Moby Dick

No man can ever feel his own identity aright except his eyes be closed; as if darkness were indeed the proper element of our essences, though light be more congenial to our clayey part. — Moby Dick

Call me Ishmael. — Ishmael

Let faith oust fact; let fancy oust memory; I look deep down and do believe. — Starbuck

A good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing; the more’s the pity. — Moby Dick

Meditation and water are wedded for ever. — Moby Dick

Book! You lie there; the fact is, you books must know your places. You’ll do to give us the bare words and facts, but we come in to supply the thoughts. — Stubb

It is not down on any map; true places never are. — Ishmael

For all have doubts; many deny; but doubts or denials, few along with them, have intuitions. Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly; this combination makes neither believer nor infidel, but makes a man who regards them both with equal eye. — Moby Dick

It is not down on any map; true places never are. — Ishmael

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it. — Ishmael

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