Eulogies are speeches usually given at the deceased’s memorial service. Sometimes they’re given by a friend or family member, but other times an officiant writes the speech.
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We’ve compiled some of the most powerful eulogies written for books and movies just in case you’re looking for inspiration as you write your loved one’s eulogy. We’ll also share some of the most famous tributes in history.
Here are some eulogies to consider. Caution: There are spoilers in this article! Proceed with caution.
Famous Eulogies from Literature
It’s easy to come up with a list of notable books where one of the main characters dies in the end, but it is harder to find examples that include the text of the eulogy for that main character. Here are some eulogy examples that we found in some of the most famous pieces of English literature.
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1. Mark Antony’s speech in Julius Caesar
William Shakespeare’s plays are chock-full of death, and readers can find plenty of examples when characters pause and reflect over the death of a friend. What about Mark Antony’s famous “Friends, Romans, countrymen” speech that appears in Julius Caesar?
If it’s been a while since you were in sophomore English, you may not remember that Antony’s speech was used to turn the crowd against the conspirators who had stabbed Caesar. It’s worth reading again if you don’t still have it memorized from when you were 16 years old.
2. Casy’s words for Grandpa in The Grapes of Wrath
The Joad family travels from Oklahoma to California during the Dust Bowl in John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath. During the trip, Grandpa dies, and Reverend Casy is asked to speak a few words over his buried body.
His speech begins, “This here ol’ man jus’ lived a life an’ just died out of it. I don’t know whether he was good or bad, but that don’t matter much. He was alive, an’ that’s what matters.”
3. Narrator’s words for Charlotte the Spider in Charlotte’s Web
Was Charlotte the first fictional death you ever experienced? While Wilbur, the pig, and the rest of the animals didn’t have a formal funeral for Charlotte, the narrator offers tribute to the friendly arachnid with these final words: “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”
4. Gus’ Eulogy Letter for Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars
We don’t want to confuse you with the name of this particular eulogy.
If you have read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, you may not remember that before he dies, Gus actually emails a eulogy for Hazel to her father. It’s a lovely eulogy full of flowery language.
5. A “Tufty-Haired” Man’s Eulogy for Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The reader doesn’t know who the “tufty-haired” man is who presents Albus Dumbledore’s eulogy in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We also don’t hear the full text. What the reader does get is a few random phrases, along with Harry’s reaction to the speech.
“‘Nobility of spirit’…’ intellectual contribution’…’ greatness of heart’... It did not mean very much. It had little to do with Dumbledore as Harry had known him. He suddenly remembered Dumbledore’s idea of a few words, ‘nitwit,’ ‘oddment,’ ‘blubber,’ and ‘tweak,’ and again had to suppress a grin.”
Famous Eulogies from Movies
While a lot of the examples on the previous list can also be found in movies, we also have these examples for you to consider.
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6. Matthew’s eulogy for Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral
Watch this poignant scene from the 1994 movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral if you haven’t already. For one thing,
it is beautifully acted by John Hannah, but it also includes one of our favorite funeral poems, written by W.H. Auden, called “Funeral Blues.”
7. Captain Kirk’s eulogy for Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Captain Kirk can hardly get the words out when he says, “Of all the souls I encountered in my travels, his was the most human.”
Then bagpipes play, and Spock’s body is shot out into space. This is perhaps one of the most heartfelt moments within the entire series.
8. Daniel’s eulogy to his wife in Love, Actually
Liam Neeson’s character in Love, Actually explains that his wife chose her own way to say goodbye before he plays “Bye, Bye Baby” by the Bay City Rollers.
At first, the congregation seems shocked by the upbeat melody, but then they all begin to smile.
9. Walter and the Dude eulogize Danny in The Big Lebowski
Walter tries to return Danny’s ashes to the “bosom of the Pacific Ocean,” after giving a eulogy in The Big Lebowski.
Instead, a breeze causes the ashes to fly back to cover the Dude’s hair, face, and sunglasses.
10. Daniel’s eulogy for his father in Death at a Funeral
The main character’s awkward eulogy is interrupted in the 2007 version of Death at a Funeral, when a thought-to-be-dead little person breaks out of the casket of the father. This extremely dark comedy stars Peter Dinklage.
Famous Eulogies from History
Many famous eulogies can be found throughout history. Here are a few we would like to highlight.
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11. Oprah Winfrey’s eulogy for Rosa Parks
If Oprah is involved, you know it has to be amazing. She was asked to give the eulogy for Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks in 2005.
She told the audience about hearing the story of Rosa Parks when she was a young girl living in the south. Oprah credited Parks as being the reason for her own success.
12. Mona Simpson’s eulogy for Steve Jobs
Mona Simpson is the late Steve Jobs’ sister. She gave the eulogy for the tech giant in 2011. The last words of her eulogy were to recount Job’s own final words: “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.”
13. Frank Oz’s eulogy for Jim Henson
It’s always amazing when a person giving a tribute says something funny enough to get people to laugh. Read the full text of Frank Oz’s speech, where Oz describes a gift that Henson made for him, which included a tiny photograph of a naked Oz. Eulogies are the best if they were written by someone who knew the deceased well.
14. Earl Spencer’s eulogy for Princess Diana
Princess Diana’s brother spoke at her service after her shocking death in 1997. His first lines set the tone of the speech: “I stand before you today, the representative of a family in grief in a country in mourning before a world in shock.”
The world was shocked when the Princess died in a car accident after being chased by the paparazzi. The royal family was in shock after Diana’s brother used some rather sharp words to describe Diana’s treatment by them.
15. John Cleese’s eulogy of Graham Chapman
John Cleese’s speech for Graham Chapman pushed boundaries — and that’s an understatement. The two worked together on Monty Python. You must have an idea of what type of eulogy Cleese presented if you’re familiar with this British comedy team.
What Eulogies Should Be On the List?
It’s tricky narrowing down a list of eulogies in literature, movies, and history to only 15. After all, eulogies have probably been part of the world’s culture since the beginning of language. Which tributes are your favorite?
Not all of these eulogies were written for real-life people, but they all have one thing in common. The writers all spent a great deal of time crafting their words to perfection. If you are tasked with writing the tribute speech for a loved one or a eulogy for mom, make sure you set aside enough time for the task. Chances are, it’ll take longer than you thought.