Top 80 'Moby Dick' Quotes By Herman Melville

Moumita Dutta
Dec 12, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Mar 13, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Vintage book in candle light

'Moby Dick' written by Herman Melville and published in 1851, holds a special place in literature and is a classic.

'Moby Dick' or 'The Whale' follows a group of sailors aboard the Pequod lead by Captain Ahab on his quest to take revenge on a giant white sperm whale. The giant white sperm whale had taken one of Captain Ahab's legs during his previous voyage, hence his madness.

The books of Herman Melville are loved by children and adults alike and 'Moby Dick' is definitely a must-read.

The story in the book is told from Ishmael's perspective and is one of the main characters. The opening line of 'Moby Dick' is "Call me Ishmael", and that itself builds the foundation of the relationship between the narrator of the book and the reader.

We have collected the best quotes from this immortal book by Herman Melville and curated the perfect list of quotes that talk about their voyage, about the sea, the whale, and also obsession quotes which talk about the addiction to revenge and putting catching the whale above everything.

If you find our content interesting, you can also check out Herman Melville quotes and Captain Ahab quotes.

Important Quotes In Moby Dick

Here are some quotes which are unforgettable or important from the universally famous book by Herman Melville!

Quill pen and ink well resting on an old book in a library

1. "In life, the visible surface of the Sperm Whale is not the least among the many marvels he presents."

- Ishmael, Chapter 68.

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

- Starbuck, Chapter 114.

3. "They think me mad - Starbuck does; but I'm demoniac, I am madness maddened!"

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 37.

4. "Ye've shipped, have ye? Names down on the papers?"

- Elijah, Chapter 19.

5. "Stubb was the second mate. He was a native of Cape Cod; and hence, according to local usage, was called a Cape Codman."

- Ishmael, Chapter 27.

6. "I am Stubb, and Stubb has his history; but here Stubb takes oaths that he has always been jolly!"

- Stubb, Chapter 114.

7. "Call me Ishmael."

- Ishmael, Chapter One.

8. "Book! You lie there; the fact is, you books must know your places."

- Stubb, Chapter 99.

9. "Mr. Radney, I will not obey you. Take that hammer away, or look to yourself."

- Steelkilt, Chapter 54.

10. "I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer."

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 37.

11. "Anything down there about your souls?"

- Queequeg, Chapter 19.

12. "I am past scorching; not easily can'st thou scorch a scar."

- Perth, Chapter 113.

13. "Queequeg here wouldn't harm a hair of your head.'"

- Peter Coffin, Chapter Three.

14. "Its wood could only be American!"

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 135.

15. "Son of darkness, art thou at present in communion with any Christian church?"

- Captain Bildad, Chapter 18.

16. "We have seen many whale-ships in our harbours, but never heard of your Canallers. Pardon: who and what are they?"

- Don Pedro, Chapter 54.

17. "Look here, friend, if you have anything important to tell us, out with it."

- Ishmael, Chapter 19.

18. "Queequeg, look here—you sabbee me, I sabbee—you this man sleepe you—you sabbee?"

- Peter Coffin, Chapter Three.

19. "Think not, is my eleventh commandment; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth."

- Stubb, Chapter 29.

20. "Damn your eyes! what's that pump stopping for?"

- Radney, Chapter 54.

Ishmael Quotes Which Are Loved

The much-acclaimed book by Herman Melville follows Ishmael through his voyage to catch the highly evasive whale.

21. "All the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick."

- Ishmael, Chapter 41.

22. "'Stop your grinning,' shouted I, 'and why didn't you tell me that that infernal harpooneer was a cannibal?'"

- Ishmael, Chapter Three.

23. "While ponderous planets of unwaning woe revolve round me, deep down and deep inland there I still bathe me in eternal mildness of joy."

- Ishmael, Chapter 87.

24. "How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends."

- Ishmael, Chapter 10.

25. "Tell him to stash his tomahawk there, or pipe, or whatever you call it; tell him to stop smoking, in short, and I will turn in with him. "

- Ishmael, Chapter Three.

26. "But if you are speaking of Captain Ahab, of that ship there, the Pequod, then let me tell you, that I know all about the loss of his leg."

- Ishmael, Chapter 19.

27. "God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!"

- Ishmael, Chapter 58.

28. "Thus, then, in our hearts' honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cosy, loving pair."

- Ishmael, Chapter 10.

29. "He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it."

- Ishmael, Chapter 41.

30. "Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee, as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness."

Ishmael, Chapter 96.

31. "The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them, till they are left living on with half a heart and half a lung."

- Ishmael, Chapter 41.

32. "Thee, civilized and enlightened gourmand, who nailest geese to the ground and feastest on their bloated livers in thy pate de fois gras."

- Ishmael, Chapter 65.

33. "For what are the comprehensible terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of God!"

- Ishmael, Chapter 24.

34. I try all things, I achieve what I can."

- Ishmael, Chapter 79.

35. "And thus, though surrounded by circle upon circle of consternations and affrights, did these inscrutable creatures at the center freely and fearlessly indulge in all peaceful concernments."

- Ishmael, Chapter 87.

36. "Top-heavy was the ship as a dinnerless student with all Aristotle in his head."

- Ishmael, Chapter 110.

37. "For it is the harpooneer that makes the voyage, and if you take the breath out of his body, how can you expect to find it there when most wanted!"

- Ishmael, Chapter 62.

38. "Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning."

- Ishmael, Chapter 10.

39. "Steelkilt was a tall and noble animal with a head like a Roman, and a flowing golden beard like the tasseled housings of your last viceroy's snorting charger; and a brain, and a heart, and a soul in him."

- Ishmael, Chapter 54.

40. "I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world."

- Ishmael, Chapter One.

Moby Dick Ahab Quotes That You Will Enjoy

Here are some quotes from Captain Ahab that are unforgettable from Herman Melville.

41. "The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run."

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 37.

42. "Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! And since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!"

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 135.

43. "Come, Ahab's compliments to ye; come and see if ye can swerve me."

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 37.

44. "The ship! The hearse!—the second hearse!"

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 135.

45. "Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents' beds, unerringly I rush!"

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 37.

46. "Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me."

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 36.

47. "I rush! Naught's an obstacle, naught's an angle to the iron way!"

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 37.

48. "Swerve me? Ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves!"

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 37.

49. "To the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 135.

50. "That wild madness that's only calm to comprehend itself!"

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 37.

'Moby Dick' Sea Quotes

Here are some famous excerpts from the book by Herman Melville, which are about the sea or about sailing on the sea.

51. "At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we glided."

- Ishmael, Chapter 22.

52. "Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul... then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."

- Ishmael, Chapter One.

53. "Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the wholesome exercise and pure air of forecastle deck."

- Ishmael, Chapter One.

54. "For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life."

- Ishmael, Chapter 58.

55. "It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to look as if he had a great secret in him."

- Ishmael, Chapter 19.

56. "The Nantucketer, he alone resides and riots on the sea; he alone, in Bible language, goes down to it in ships; to and fro ploughing it as his own special plantation."

- Ishmael, Chapter 14.

57. "Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea?"

- Ishmael, Chapter One.

58. "As the short northern day merged into night, we found ourselves almost broad upon the wintry ocean, whose freezing spray cased us in ice, as in polished armor."

- Ishmael, Chapter 22.

59. "I stand alone here upon an open sea, with two oceans and a whole continent between me and law."

- Ishmael, Chapter 123.

60. "He lives on the sea, as prairie cocks in the prairie; he hides among the waves, he climbs them as chamois hunters climb the Alps. "

- Ishmael, Chapter 14.

Best 'Moby Dick' Quotes

Here is a list of quotes from the celebrated novel by Herman Melville.

61. "The long rows of teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight and like the white ivory tusks of some huge elephant, vast curving icicles depended from the bows."

- Ishmael, Chapter 22.

62. "But Radney, the mate, was ugly as a mule; yet as hardy, as stubborn, as malicious."

- Ishmael, Chapter 54.

63. "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."

- Ishmael, Chapter 49.

64. "All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life.

- Ishmael, Chapter 60.

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

- Ishamael, Chapter 17.

66. "Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing."

- Ishmael, Chapter 41.

67. "I would have seen very plainly in my heart that I did but half fancy being committed this way to so long a voyage, without once laying my eyes on the man who was to be the absolute dictator of it, so soon as the ship sailed out upon the open sea."

- Ishmael, Chapter 20.

68. "There is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men."

- Ishmael, Chapter 87.

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

- Ishmael, Chapter 111.

70. "Then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago."

- Ishmael, Chapter 135.

71. "He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it."

- Ishmael, Chapter 41.

72. "Thou sawest the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them."

- Captain Ahab, Chapter 70.

73. "So, if anyone man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for a good joke to anybody, let him not be backward, but let him cheerfully allow himself to spend and to be spent in that way."

- Ishmael, Chapter Five.

74. "Were this world an endless plain, and by sailing eastward we could for ever reach new distances."

- Ishmael, Chapter 52.

Unforgettable 'Moby Dick' Movie Quotes

Here are some famous 'Moby Dick' quotes from the 1956 movie adapted from the renowned book by Herman Melville.

75. "To be enraged with a dumb brute that acted out of blind instinct is blasphemous."

- Starbuck.

76. "Blacksmith, I set ye a task. Take these harpoons and lances. Melt them down. Forge me new weapons that will strike deep and hold fast."

- Captain Ahab.

77. "He did not feel the wind, or smell the salt air. He only stood, staring at the horizon, with the marks of some inner crucifixion and woe deep in his face."

- Ishmael.

78. "I don't give reasons. I give orders."

- Captain Ahab.

79. "Well, sir, if it's like that, I don't wonder that you, a religious man, might be a bit downcast. But I don't much see what you can do about it."

- Stubb.

80. "That ain't no whale; that a great white god."

- Pip.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for ‘Moby Dick’ quotes then why not take a look at 'The Sun Also Rises' quotes, or 'The Scarlet Letter' quotes.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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