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. I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer. A hump like a snow-hill! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. All noble things are touched with that. Does not that sight take a tooth out of the cannibal's jaw? Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately steppint into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. Such, and so magnifying, is the virtue of a large and liberal theme! Thou who, in all Thy mighty, earthly marchings, ever cullest Thy selectest champions from the kingly commons; bear me out in it, O God! I have no objection to any person's religion, be it what it may, so long as that person does not kill or insult any other person, because that other person don't believe it also. It is not down in any map; true places never are. This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. Ahab, the captain of the ship, is willing to risk everything -- his ship, his crew, his own life -- to seek revenge on the elusive whale.
Of all divers, thou hast dived the deepest. Can'st not smoothe this seam? Mark ye, be forewarned; Ahab's above the common; Ahab's been in colleges, as well as 'mong the cannibals; been used to deeper wonders than the waves; fixed his fiery lance in mightier, stranger foes than whales. For hardly have we mortals by long toilings extracted from this world's vast bulk its small but valuable sperm; and then, with weary patience, cleansed ourselves from its defilements, and learned to live here in clean tabernacles of the soul; hardly is this done, when- There she blows! If man will strike, strike through the mask! But once gone through, we trace the round again; and are infants, boys, and men, and Ifs eternally. Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous slavish shore? 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. It was that accursed white whale that razed me; made a poor pegging lubber of me for ever and a day!. For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. What is the principle of religious belief in them but Loose-Fish? And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces.
Quotes from the epic novel show why it has endured as an American classic. And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too? If man will strike, strike through the mask! It might seem weird that he wants to use human blood to create the harpoon that will strike Moby Dick, but, if you think about it, any tool used for hunting the White Whale seems to get covered in human blood sooner or later! In his fiery eyes of scorn and triumph, you then saw Ahab in all his fatal pride. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. The Pequod could make a lot more money just hunting whatever whales it finds and staying clear of the really dangerous ones.
This novel was first published in 1851 but didn't achieve acclaim until after Melville's death. What say ye, men, will ye splice hands on it, now? A cluster of dark nods replied, Yes. To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. Yet this is nothing: I leave eternity to Thee; for what is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God? It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all. But in each event--in the living act, the undoubted deed--there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. Will ye give me as much blood as will cover this barb? While Captain Ahab sees revenge as an end in itself, Starbuck is always going to be there to do a broader cost-benefit analysis. What shall be grand in thee, it must needs be plucked at from the skies, and dived for in the deep, and featured in the unbodied air! These quotes show the depth of his obsessive ocean quest.
The men aboard the Pequod are everything to one another, and the relationships between them are stronger and more meaningful than even that between man and wife. 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. To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. On life and death this old man walked. And this is what ye have shipped for, men! What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.
If ye see a white one, split your lungs for him! Fashioned at last into an arrowy shape, and welded by Perth to the shank, the steel soon pointed the end of the iron; and as the blacksmith was about giving the barbs their final heat, prior to tempering them, he cried to Ahab to place the water-cask near. What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Starbuck; wilt thou not chase the white whale? Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt? By heaven, man, we are turned round and round in this world, like yonder windlass, and Fate is the handspike. This whole book is but a draught- nay, but the draught of a draught. God keep me from ever completing anything.
In what rapt ether sails the world, of which the weariest will never weary? And Ahab chanced so to stand, that the Parsee occupied his shadow; while, if the Parsee's shadow was there at all it seemed only to blend with, and lengthen Ahab's. Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color; and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows--a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink? And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. 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. From beneath his slouched hat Ahab dropped a tear into the sea; nor did all the Pacific contain such wealth as that one wee drop.