Top 5 Literary Quotes That Inspire Me
5. "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. . .”
I'm a huge fan of The Great Gatsby, and this quote which is from chapter 9 always hits me particularly hard. Tom and Daisy both end up being the antagonists in the novel, and I love that they're not villains because of an exterior motive. It's not money, power, or revenge that's driving their actions, it's how selfish they are, and that makes them careless and the people whose lives are destroyed are just collateral damage. Their characters are so believable and they're probably the two characters in literature that I hated most.
4. “The bravest people are the ones who don’t mind looking like cowards.”
This is a quote from The Once and Future King by T.H. White which I read my sophomore year in high school. So many of the quotes have stuck with me, especially this one. I love characters who can be braver than they thought possible and as a result accomplish things they didn't believe they could. And I've always found the character who can admit they're scared and the character who isn't too proud to walk away from a fight are the characters I latch onto.
3. "What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves."
When I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, I was actually in Prague going to film school and the whole novel became embedded in this experience of my first trip overseas. This quote though, really sticks out and has come into play a lot of times in my life. It's that idea that sometimes we're afraid of success. The greatest thing about reading is that you can connect to a character and see that other people are like you. And I think it's those little moments that are least likely to be spoken about that are so wonderful and interesting to read about.
2. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
This is the last line from The Great Gatsby and truthfully it was hard to pick just this line and not the whole passage. It's one of the most tragic and beautiful observations about human nature that I've ever read. As human beings we're always looking to the future, striving to achieve our dreams, refusing to give up hope, and yet we can't ever really escape our pasts.
1. "This above all: to thine own self be true."
This quote is from Hamlet, which is admittedly one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. (It's from Act I, scene 3 to be specific). I love the irony of the line, that it's such great advice and yet it's Polonius who says it to Laertes and that in his speech, he's actually telling his son to put himself first. But taken more at face value, it's something that's important to me as a person and it inspires me as a writer. A lot of people--real people and characters--are trying to find themselves and figure out where they fit in the world. And being true to yourself and defining success and happiness by your own terms rather than societal standards is something I think we're all striving for.