Moby-Dick: Wherefore


  1. whatever the reason for something happening
  2. the cause or reason

The word wherefore appears in the following sentences from Moby-Dick:

Chapter 1 > Paragraph 11 > Sentence 5:

But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into my head to go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some unaccountable way—he can better answer than any one else.

Chapter 7 > Paragraph 8 > Sentence 1:

In what census of living creatures, the dead of mankind are included; why it is that a universal proverb says of them, that they tell no tales, though containing more secrets than the Goodwin Sands! how it is that to his name who yesterday departed for the other world, we prefix so significant and infidel a word, and yet do not thus entitle him, if he but embarks for the remotest Indies of this living earth; why the Life Insurance Companies pay death-forfeitures upon immortals; in what eternal, unstirring paralysis, and deadly, hopeless trance, yet lies antique Adam who died sixty round centuries ago; how it is that we still refuse to be comforted for those who we nevertheless maintain are dwelling in unspeakable bliss; why all the living so strive to hush all the dead; wherefore but the roumour of a knocking in a tomb will terrify a whole city.

Chapter 26 > Paragraph 3 > Sentence 3:

wherefore he had no fancy for lowering for whales after sun-down; nor for persisting in fighting a fish that too much persisted in fighting him.

Chapter 34 > Paragraph 4 > Sentence 2:

wherefore this difference?

Chapter 55 > Paragraph 14 > Sentence 5:

wherefore, it seems to me you had best not be too fastidious in your curiosity touching this Leviathan.

Chapter 76 > Paragraph 2 > Sentence 3:

wherefore, you must now have perceived that the front of the Sperm Whale's head is a dead, blind wall, without a single organ or tender prominence of any sort whatsoever.

Chapter 85 > Paragraph 2 > Sentence 4:

wherefore the necessity for his periodical visits to the upper world.

Chapter 85 > Paragraph 10 > Sentence 6:

wherefore, among whalemen, the spout is deemed poisonous; they try to evade it.

Chapter 89 > Paragraph 9 > Sentence 4:

wherefore the plaintiffs now sued for the recovery of the value of their whale, line, harpoons, and boat.

Chapter 101 > Paragraph 8 > Sentence 2:

The title was, "Dan Coopman," wherefore I concluded that this must be the invaluable memoirs of some Amsterdam cooper in the fishery, as every whale ship must carry its cooper.

Chapter 102 > Paragraph 8 > Sentence 5:

Oh, busy weaver! unseen weaver!—pause!—one word!—whither flows the fabric? what palace may it deck? wherefore all these ceaseless toilings?

Chapter 105 > Paragraph 15 > Sentence 1:

wherefore, for all these things, we account the whale immortal in his species, however perishable in his individuality.

Chapter 126 > Paragraph 19 > Sentence 25:

We work by the month, or by the job, or by the profit; not for us to ask the why and wherefore of our work, unless it be too confounded cobbling, and then we stash it if we can.

Concordance for the word wherefore from Moby-Dick.

Herman Melville
Moby-Dick Navigation
Search Moby-Dick