Top 25 Literary Quotes

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As an English teacher, it’s stands to reason that some of the greatest and most beloved English literary works have touched me on a very deep level and in turn, I have witnessed students express the same reaction to them.  Here then, is my list of 25 titles, and a quotation from each, of some of the most instantly recognizable and inspirational words printed in the English language.  They are as follows (in alphabetical order) :

1. 20, 000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne)  “Liberty is worth paying for…”

2. All Quiet On the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque)  “I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.”

3. An Ideal Husband (Oscar Wilde)  “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”

4. Anne of Avonlea (Lucy Maud Montgomery)  “In this world you’ve just got to hope for the best and prepare for the worst and take whatever God sends.”

5. As You Like It (William Shakespeare)  “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”

6. Bleak House (Charles Dickens)  “…I only ask to be free.  The butterflies are free.  Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies.”

7. The Chrysalids (John Wyndham)  “But life is change, that is how it differs from rocks, change is its very nature.”

8. David Copperfield (Charles Dickens)  “I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.”

9. David Copperfield (Charles Dickens)  “My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today.  Procrastination is the thief of time.”

10. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)  “Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence.  There’s no better rule.”

11. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)  “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.”

12. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (William Shakespeare)  “This above all,–to thine own self be true; and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

10. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)  “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”

12. The Last of the Mohicans (James Fenimore Cooper)  “Should we distrust the man because his manners are not our manners, and that his skin is dark?”

13. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)  “There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind.”

14. The Merry Wives of Windsor (William Shakespeare)  “Why, then the world’s mine oyster.  Which I with sword will open.”

15. Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens)  “Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the somber colors are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts.  The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision.”

16. The Princess Bride(William Goldman)  “Life isn’t fair.  It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”

17. Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe)  “Fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself.”

18. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)  “Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”

19. Slaughterhouse – Five (Kurt Vonnegut)  “So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry. She didn’t want her babies or anybody else’s babies killed in wars.  And she thought wars were partly encouraged by books and movies.”

20. A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)  “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

21. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne Brontë)  “She was trusted and valued by her father, loved and courted by all dogs, cats, children, and poor people, and slighted and neglected by everybody else.”

22. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)  “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand.  It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.  You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

23. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

24. The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)  “Women can resist a man’s love, a man’s fame, a man’s personal appearance, and a man’s money, but they cannot resist a man’s tongue when he knows how to talk to them.”

25. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë)  “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods.  Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees – my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath – a source of little visible delight, but necessary.”

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