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45 Thinking Quotes from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

Last updated on Nov 1st, 2019

45 Thinking Quotes from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by Herman Melville, which first appeared in 1851. Melville’s masterpiece, considered an excellent work of Romanticism and the American Renaissance, is one of the greatest works of imaginations in literary history.

Moby-Dick recounts the adventure of the narrator Ishmael, which sails on the whaling ship Pequod under the command of Captain Ahab. Ishmael narrates the obsessive quest of Ahab to take revenge on Moby Dick, a white whale which on a previous voyage destroyed Ahab’s ship and severed his leg at the knee.

Despised by critics upon its publication, Moby-Dick was a commercial failure and even out of print at the time of the author’s death in 1891. The novel remained largely ignored until the 20th century when it gained full attention and acclaim.

Here is a list of the 45 thinking quotes from this marvelous novel.

Meditation and water are wedded for ever. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
1
Meditation and water are wedded for ever.Chapter 1: Loomings
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
2
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.Chapter 1: Loomings
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
3
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.Chapter 1: Loomings
And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
4
And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid.Chapter 1: Loomings
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! - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
5
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!Chapter 1: Loomings
Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
6
Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.Chapter 4: The Counterpane
A good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing; the more's the pity. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
7
A good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing; the more’s the pity.Chapter 5: Breakfast
Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
8
Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope.Chapter 7: The Chapel
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
9
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.Chapter 9: The Sermon
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
10
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.Chapter 9: The Sermon
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
11
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.Chapter 9: The Sermon
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
12
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.Chapter 9: The Sermon
There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
13
There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.Chapter 11: Nightgown
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
14
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.Chapter 11: Nightgown
See how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
15
See how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them.Chapter 11: Nightgown
It is not down in any map; true places never are. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
16
It is not down in any map; true places never are.Chapter 12: Biographical
Be sure of this, O young ambition, all mortal greatness is but disease. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
17
Be sure of this, O young ambition, all mortal greatness is but disease.Chapter 16: The Ship
Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and Pagans alike— for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
18
Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and Pagans alike— for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.Chapter 17: The Ramadan
It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to look as if he had a great secret in him. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
19
It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to look as if he had a great secret in him.Chapter 19: The Prophet
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! - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
20
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!Chapter 23: The Lee Shore
Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like death. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
21
Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like death.Chapter 29: Enter Ahab; To Him, Stubb
Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
22
Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me.Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck
Truth hath no confines. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
23
Truth hath no confines.Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck
A laugh's the wisest, easiest answer to all that's queer. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
24
A laugh’s the wisest, easiest answer to all that’s queer.Chapter 39: First Night-Watch
I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
25
I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.Chapter 39: First Night-Watch
Immortality is but ubiquity in time. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
26
Immortality is but ubiquity in time.Chapter 41: 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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
27
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.Chapter 41: 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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
28
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.Chapter 49: The Hyena
Long exile from Christendom and civilization inevitably restores a man to that condition in which God placed him, i.e. what is called savagery. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
29
Long exile from Christendom and civilization inevitably restores a man to that condition in which God placed him, i.e. what is called savagery.Chapter 57: Of Whales in Paint; In Teeth; In Wood; In SheetIron; In Stone: In Mountains; In Stars
Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
30
Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe.Chapter 58: Brit
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? - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
31
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?Chapter 58: Brit
It is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, everpresent perils of life. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
32
It is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, everpresent perils of life.Chapter 60: The Line
There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
33
There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.Chapter 82: The Honour and Glory of Whaling
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
34
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.Chapter 85: The Fountain
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
35
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.Chapter 86: The Tail
There is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
36
There is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.Chapter 87: The Grand Armada
So 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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
37
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.Chapter 93: The Castaway
There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
38
There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.Chapter 96: The Try-Works
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
39
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.Chapter 99: The Doubloon
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
40
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.Chapter 104: The Fossil Whale
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
41
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.Chapter 106: Ahab's Leg
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
42
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.Chapter 112: The Blacksmith
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
43
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.Chapter 114: The Gilder
The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
44
The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser.Chapter 125: The Log and Line
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. - Herman Melville (Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Quotes)
45
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.Chapter 135: The Chase-Third Day