The Memorable Last Words of Literary Characters

Today, we’re celebrating literature’s first detective story, which became a prototype for the greatest modern mystery tales and the analytical sleuths that investigated them. This weekend marks the 173rd publication anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, which first appeared in Graham’s Magazine back in 1841. Protagonist C. Auguste Dupin, a Parisian man who becomes embroiled in a bloody case, solves the bizarre murder mystery surrounding two women without the help of the police force. The story’s final line comes from a puffed-up Dupin, who after ruffling the prefect of police’s feathers, snarkily states: “I like him especially for one master stroke of cant, by which he has attained his reputation for ingenuity. I mean the way he has ‘de nier ce qui est, et d’expliquer ce qui n’est pas.’ (‘To deny what is, and to explain what is not.’)” We felt inspired to look back on some of the most memorable last words of literary characters — those that mark a character’s journey, several closing quips, and a few dying utterances. Add your favorite quotes, below.


The ultimate sacrifice for love:

I kiss’d thee ere I kill’d thee: no way but this;

Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.

Moby Dick
A defiant and dramatic end:

“Thus, I give up the spear!”

A Tale of Two Cities
Philosophical resignation:

“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.”

Only one lives to tell the story of a family gone wrong:

“The rest is silence.”

Heart of Darkness
A reverberating revolt:

“The horror! The horror!”