The Graduate is an era-defining film that was first released in 1967 and is still being talked about today. The film follows a series of decisions made by Benjamin Baddock (Dustin Hoffman) after he graduates from college. His life is a mess. He’s in love with a girl, but having an affair with her mother, and he still has no idea what he’s going for a career.
What are the most memorable Graduate quotes? Can you recite them back, word-for-word? Do any of these scenes still stand out in your mind today? Keep reading for our list of the best quotes from The Graduate.
The Go-To Question: “What are you going to do now?”
Benjamin Baddock just graduated from college and now has some big life decisions to make. His parents and their friends want him to go graduate school and pay attention to the plastics industry, Ben wants to marry Elaine Robinson – but she’s not ready, and Elaine’s mom, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the neglected wife of his dad’s law partner, wants to seduce him. These are confusing times for Benjamin, for sure. What’s next after college? Will Ben make the right decisions?
At Ben’s college graduation party, one guest asks Ben, “What are you going to do now?” Of course, we the viewers know she is asking Ben a greater question: “What are you going to do with your life?” It’s likely that Ben knows this, too, but instead he responds:
- “I was going to go upstairs for a minute.”
She presses him, clarifying, “No, with your future!” and he responds as any anxious and unsure 21-year-old graduate would say: “That’s a hard thing to discuss.”
The Graduate Plastics Quote: “I just want to say one word to you… Plastics.”
At Ben’s graduation party, one of his dad’s friends, Mr. Maguire, has some advice for him. It’s just one word.
- Mr. Maguire: I want to say one word to you, Benjamin. Just one word.
- Benjamin Braddock: Yes, sir.
- Mr. Maguire: Are you listening?
- Benjamin Braddock: Yes, I am.
- Mr. Maguire: Plastics.
- Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
- Mr. Maguire: There is a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
- Benjamin Braddock: Yes, I will.
- Mr. Maguire: Okay. Enough said. That’s a deal.
So, if the future is plastics, what is Benjamin supposed to do with this information? Part of the reason why this ‘one word plastics quote’ is so famous is because it’s typical of the unactionable advice that the older generations will freely bestow upon people just starting their careers.
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me… Aren’t you?”
Graduate director Mike Nichols made the right choice when casting Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson. She is an incredible seductress and completely outmaneuvers Benjamin.
- Benjamin: Look, I think I should be going.
- Mrs. Robinson: Sit down, Benjamin.
- Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, if you don’t mind my saying so, this conversation is getting a little strange. Now, I’m sure that Mr. Robinson will be here any minute now and…
- Mrs. Robinson: No.
- Benjamin: What?
- Mrs. Robinson: My husband will be back quite late. He should be gone for several hours.
- Benjamin: Oh my God.
- Mrs. Robinson: Pardon?
- Benjamin: Oh no, Mrs. Robinson. Oh no.
- Mrs. Robinson: What’s wrong?
- Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, you didn’t… I mean, you didn’t expect…
- Mrs. Robinson: What?
- Benjamin: I mean, you didn’t really think I’d do something like THAT.
- Mrs. Robinson: Like what? Benjamin : What do you think?
- Mrs. Robinson: Well, I don’t know.
- Benjamin: For God’s sake, Mrs. Robinson. Here we are. You got me into your house. You give me a drink. You… put on music. Now, you start opening up your personal life to me and tell me your husband won’t be home for hours.
- Mrs. Robinson: So?
- Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me!
- Mrs. Robinson: (laughs) Huh?
- Benjamin: Aren’t you?
“Will you unzip my dress?”
- Mrs. Robinson: Will you unzip my dress? I think I’ll go to bed.
- Benjamin: Oh well, good night.
- Mrs. Robinson: Won’t you unzip my dress?
- Benjamin: I’d rather not, Mrs. Robinson.
- Mrs. Robinson: If you still think I’m trying to seduce you…?
- Benjamin: No, I don’t, but I just feel a little funny.
- Mrs. Robinson: Benjamin. You’ve known me all your life.
- Benjamin: I know that, but I’m…
- Mrs. Robinson: Come on. It’s hard for me to reach. Thank you.
- Benjamin: Right.
- Mrs. Robinson: What are you so scared of?
- Benjamin: I’m not scared, Mrs. Robinson.
- Mrs. Robinson: Then why do you keep running away?
- Benjamin: Because you’re going to bed. I don’t think I should be up here.
- Mrs. Robinson: Haven’t you ever seen anybody in a slip before?
- Benjamin: Yes, I have, but I just…Look, what if Mr. Robinson walked in right now?
- Mrs. Robinson: What if he did?
- Benjamin: Well, it would look pretty funny, wouldn’t it?
- Mrs. Robinson: Don’t you think he trusts us together?
- Benjamin: Of course he does, but he might get the wrong idea. Anyone might.
- Mrs. Robinson: I don’t see why? I’m twice as old as you are. How could anyone think that…
- Benjamin: But they would! Don’t you see?
- Mrs. Robinson: Benjamin. I am not trying to seduce you!
- Benjamin: I know that, but please, Mrs. Robinson. This is difficult.
- Mrs. Robinson: Would you like me to seduce you?
- Benjamin: What?
- Mrs. Robinson: Is that what you’re trying to tell me?
- Benjamin: (A long pause) I’m going home now. I apologize for what I said. I hope you can forget it. But I’m going home right now.
The (Attempted) Gentle Rejection: “I think you’re the most attractive of all my parents’ friends.
In Benjamin’s defense, he did try to avoid the seduction and break it off with Elaine’s mom, Mrs. Robinson. He even cites his good parents and solid upbringing as a reason why they shouldn’t have an affair. After all, what would Benjamin’s parents think if they saw this?
Of course, Mrs. Robinson takes it personally, asking if Benjamin finds her undesirable. Benjamin responds with a quote that perfectly sums up the movie:
- “Oh, no, Mrs. Robinson. I think — I think you’re the most attractive of all my parents’ friends.”
Can you say “ouch”? We’re sure Mrs. Robinson didn’t enjoy the reminder that she’s Ben’s parents’ age. After all, that would mean admitting she’s seducing someone the same year as her own daughter.
- Mrs. Robinson: Benjamin, would this be easier for you in the dark?
- Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson. I can’t do this.
- Mrs. Robinson: You what?
- Benjamin: This is all terribly wrong.
- Mrs. Robinson: Do you find me undesirable?
- Benjamin: Oh, no, Mrs. Robinson. I think, I think you’re the most attractive of all my parents’ friends. I mean that. I find you desirable, but I, for God’s sake, can you imagine my parents? Can you imagine what they would say if they just saw us in this room here right now?
- Mrs. Robinson: What would they say?
- Benjamin: I have no idea Mrs. Robinson, but for god’s sake, they brought me up, they made a good life for me and I think they deserve better than this. I think they deserve a little better than jumping into bed with the partner’s wife.
Trying To Escape The Seduction: “Would you like to go to a movie?”
You’ve got to hand it to Benjamin. This quote follows later in the conversation quoted above. After a bit of back and forth, Benjamin aims to change the subject, bringing the two back to neutral ground. Mrs. Robinson is feeling dejected and Ben thinks she’s “missing the point.” To this end, Ben asks:
- “Maybe we could do something else together. Mrs. Robinson, would you like to go to a movie?”
It’s safe to assume Mrs. Robinson wanted nothing to do with Benjamin in a movie theater, as friends.
- Mrs. Robinson: Are you afraid of me?
- Benjamin: Oh, no. You’re missing the point. Look. Maybe we could do something else together. Mrs. Robinson, would you like to go to a movie?
Benjamin Finally Gives In To Mrs. Robinson: “Is this your first time?”
Mrs. Robinson just won’t take no for an answer. She masterfully deploys a series of mind games and every trick from her seduction playbook including drinks, music, getting Benjamin upstairs to see Elaine’s portrait, “help” unzipping her dress, and then finally insults Benjamin by implying that he’s a virgin. For Benjamin, that’s the last straw. He intends to show her that he’s not “inadequate”.
- Mrs. Robinson: (After a long pause) Can I ask you a personal question?
- Benjamin: Ask me anything you want?
- Mrs. Robinson: Is this your first time?
- Benjamin: Is this what?
- Mrs. Robinson: It is, isn’t it? It is your first time.
- Benjamin: That’s a laugh Mrs. Robinson. That’s really a laugh. Ha, ha.
- Mrs. Robinson: Well, you can admit that, can’t you?
- Benjamin: Are you kidding?
- Mrs. Robinson: It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
- Benjamin: Wait a minute.
- Mrs. Robinson: On your first time if you’re afraid of being inadequate.
- Benjamin: Who said it was my first time? Wait a minute.
- Mrs. Robinson: Just because you happen to be inadequate in one way…
- Benjamin: INADEQUATE! Don’t move!
The Confession: “That wasn’t just some woman…”
- Benjamin: That older woman that I told you about? … The married woman. That wasn’t just some woman…
- Elaine: (Realizing) Oh, no. Oh, my God. Get out!
- Mrs. Robinson: Goodbye, Benjamin.
Meaningless Affairs: “We might just as well have been shaking hands.”
Of course, we all expected Mr. Robinson to catch on eventually, and that he did.
In one scene, Mr. Robinson goes to Benjamin’s boarding room to confront Ben about the affair. They talk in Ben’s room after Mr. Robison thoroughly freaks out the unexpecting Ben.
Ben does what he thinks is best — downplays the relationship, even comparing their affair to shaking hands. He tells the angry Mr. Robinson:
- “What happened between Mrs. Robinson and me was nothing. It didn’t mean anything. We might just as well have been shaking hands.”
- Mr. Robinson: “Shaking hands? Well, that’s not saying much for my wife, is it?”
Can you say “cringe”?
Benjamin was only trying to make his relationship with Mrs. Robinson seem as light and noncommittal as possible, and he may have insulted her in the process — salt in the wound for Mr. Robinson, surely.
What advice did Benjamin get in The Graduate? Mr. Robinson told Benjamin to make the most of his youth, to have some fun and experiment. If Mr. Robinson knew that those “experiments” might involve his wife, he might have told him something different.
“It’s Completely Baked.”
What do you say to someone who thinks your ideas are half-baked? Well, if you do what Benjamin does, you say, “No, it’s not, Dad. It’s completely baked.”
The scene follows an (admittedly half-baked) conversation between Benjamin and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Braddock, about his imminent wedding to Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s daughter. The major problem with Ben’s plan? Well, it’s got some holes — including the fact that Ben hasn’t even asked Elaine to marry him yet.
- Benjamin: I’m going to marry Elaine Robinson.
- Mr. Braddock: Don’t you think that idea is a little half-baked?
- Benjamin: Oh no, Dad, it’s completely baked.
In fact, he plans to visit Elaine in Berkeley — where she is blissfully unaware of who’s about to arrive there. Ben’s decision is made, but it was made solo. His parents try to talk him out of it, but, alas, young love propels Ben forward to Berkeley with nothing but a suitcase and a full heart.
Yes — believe it or not, this small word is one of the most notable and memorable quotes from The Graduate.
For one thing, it’s simple: just the nickname of our main character, Benjamin. Also, it’s a pivotal scene — the moment where Elaine decides between the two very different lives folding out in front of her. She’s, quite literally, at the altar about to get married to a past fling, while the love of her life is banging on the glass above the ceremony, shouting her name.
Well, if you’ve read this far, you know what Elaine says back. It’s not an “I do” to her angry fiancé, Carl. Instead, she opens her mouth wide, turns around, and shouts back, “Beeeeen!”, proving that her decision has been made.
Did You Enjoy These Quotes From The Graduate?
What is the famous line from The Graduate that you most remember? What did you think of these Graduate quotes? Did we leave out any of your favorite quotes from The Graduate? If so, please let us know in the comments below.
And if you love movie quotes, then you’re on the right website. Here at MethodShop, you’ll find some of the most memorable movie quotes from great films including The Big Lebowski, The Titanic, The Usual Suspects, The Devil Wears Prada, Scarface, and so much more.
NERD NOTE: The 1967 film, The Graduate, is based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Webb. He wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. The Graduate script was written by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry.