We’ve always been fascinated with dying declarations. A man’s last words often stand out as the essence of what he wants to be known of him. This is true for fictional characters as well for those who were real and historical. Here is my top ten list of my all-time favorite last words of dying characters in literature.
10 Beowulf from the anonymous poet’s Beowulf: “You are the last of us, the only one left of the Waegmundings. Fate swept us all away, sent my whole brave high-born clan to theirfinal doom. Now I must follow them”
9 Anna Karenina from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: “Lord, forgive me everything.”
8 J.P. McMurphy from Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest: “I’ve took their best punch.”
7 Othello from Shakespeare’s Othello: “I kiss’d thee ere I kill’d thee: no way but this; killing myself, to die upon a kiss.”
6 Johnny Cade from Hinton’s The Outsiders: “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.”
5 Jean Valjean from Hugo’s Les Miserables: “[My] children, my sight is failing. I had more to say, but no matter. Think of me sometimes. You are fortunate. I don’t know what is happening to me, I can see a light. Come closer. I die happy. Bow your dear heads so that I may lay my hands on them.”
4 Mr. Kurtz from Conrad’s The Heart Of Darkness: “The horror! The horror!”
3 Sydney Carton from Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities: “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.”
2 Captain Ahab from Melville’s Moby-Dick: “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!”
1 Roddy Compson from Abbott’s Prince: “My God, but life is beautiful.”
Okay, I included one of my own. But it is a good line, isn’t it? You might want to make your own list. If you do, let me know about it in the Comments section. Also, let me know what lines you would have added or which ones of mine you would have left out. And please, share this will all those you know who love good books.