Every once in a while, we need encouragement to keep going when times are tough. Not sure where to find some? Here’s an idea: uplifting movies.
One great movie that fits this particular bill is Dead Poets Society. This is a story of an unorthodox teacher (Robin Williams) who challenges his students to think about life differently. From witty remarks to sage advice, Mr. Keating always knows what to say.
From the day it came out in theatres back in 1989, Dead Poets Society was a bonafide classic. The main reason for that — other than Williams himself — was the movie’s stellar script. If you’re looking for inspiration, Dead Poets Society has it in spades.
Haven’t seen the movie yet? Need a reminder of how Mr. Keating solves most of life’s dilemmas in about two hours? Here are some of the best movie quotes from Dead Poets Society!
Perspectives: “I stand upon this desk to remind myself that we must always look at things in a different way.”
- (Keating stands on his desk)
- John Keating: Why did I stand up here? Anybody?
- Charlie Dalton: To feel taller!
- John Keating: No!
- (rings a bell with his foot)
- John Keating: But thank you for playing, Mr. Dalton. I stand upon this desk to remind myself that we must always look at things in a different way.
A Silent Voice: “You must strive to find your voice. Because the longer you wait to start, the less likely you are to find it at all.”
- John Keating: Boys, you must strive to find your voice. Because the longer you wait to start, the less likely you are to find it at all. As Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!
Imagination 101: “Close your eyes! Close them! Now, describe what you see… a sweaty-toothed madman.”
- John Keating: Close your eyes! Close them! Now, describe what you see.
- Todd Anderson: Uh, I close my eyes.
- John Keating: Yes.
- Todd Anderson: And… this image floats beside me.
- John Keating: A sweaty-toothed madman.
- Todd Anderson: A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.
- John Keating: That’s excellent! Now, give him action! Have him do something!
- Todd Anderson: His hands… reach out and choke me.
- John Keating: That’s it! Wonderful, wonderful!
- Todd Anderson: And he’s mumbling all the time.
- John Keating: What’s he mumbling?
- Todd Anderson: The truth.
- John Keating: Yes, yes.
- Todd Anderson: Truth, like… like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.
- John Keating: (some students start to laugh) Forget them, forget them! Stay with the blanket. Tell me about the blanket!
- Todd Anderson: Y-You push it, stretch it. It’ll never be enough. You kick at it, beat it, it’ll never cover us. From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, it’ll just cover your face as you cry and wail and scream.
- (long pause, then the class applauds)
- John Keating: Never forget this.
- John Keating: “O Captain, my Captain.” Who here knows what that’s from? Anybody? Not a clue? It’s from a poem by Walt Whitman. It’s about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now, in this class, you can either call me Mr. Keating or if you’re feeling daring, O Captain my Captain.
Timing: “There’s a time for caution and there’s a time for daring.”
- John Keating: There’s a time for caution and there’s a time for daring. A wise man understands which is called for.
I Also Do Imitations: “You must trust that your beliefs are unique and your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular.”
- John Keating: Now, we all have a great need for acceptance, but you must trust that your beliefs are unique and your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, and even though the herd may go: (imitates a goat) “That’s baa-aad.” Robert Frost once said, “Two roads diverged in the wood and I took the one less traveled by. That has made all the difference.”
The Marketplace Of Ideas: “Words and ideas can change the world”
- John Keating: No matter what anybody else tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
Clashing Viewpoints: “I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself.”
- John Keating: I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself.
- Mr. Nolan: At these boys’ age? Not on your life!
The Missing Page: Understanding Poetry
- John Keating: Gentlemen, open your texts to page 21 of this introduction. Mr. Perry, will you read the opening paragraph of the preface entitled “Understanding Poetry”?
- Neil: “‘Understanding Poetry,’ by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme and figures of speech, then ask two questions: 1) How artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered and 2) How important is that objective? Question 1 rates the poem’s perfection; question 2 rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining the poem’s greatness becomes a relatively simple matter. If the poem’s score for perfection is plotted on the horizontal of a graph and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness. A sonnet by Byron might score high on the vertical but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically, yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. As you proceed through the poetry in this book, practice this rating method. As your ability to evaluate poems in this matter grows, so will, so will your enjoyment and understanding of poetry.”
- John Keating: Excrement. That’s what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. We’re not laying pipe. We’re talking about poetry. How can you describe poetry like American Bandstand? “Oh, I like Byron. I give him a 42, but I can’t dance to it.” Now, I want you to rip out that page. Go on. Rip out the entire page. You heard me. Rip it out. Rip it out! Go on. Rip it out! [Charles rips out the page] Thank you, Mr. Dalton. Gentlemen, tell you what. Don’t just tear out that page, tear out the entire introduction. I want it gone. History. Leave nothing of it. Rip it out! Rip! Begone, J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. Rip. Shred. Tear. Rip it out! I want to hear nothing but ripping of Mr. Pritchard. We’ll perforate it, put it on a roll. It’s not the Bible. You’re not gonna go to Hell for this. Go on. Make a clean tear. I want nothing left of it.
- Richard: We shouldn’t be doing this.
- John Keating: Rip! Rip! Rip! Rip it out! Rip! Rip it out!
- (McCallister enters the room)
- McAllister: What the hell is going on here?
- John Keating: I don’t hear enough rips!
- McAllister: Mr. Keating.
- John Keating: Mr. McAllister.
- McAllister: I’m sorry. I– I didn’t know you were here.
- John Keating: I am.
- McAllister: Ah, so you are. Excuse me.
- John Keating: Keep ripping, gentlemen! This is a battle. A war. And the casualties could be your hearts and souls. Thank you, Mr. Dalton. Armies of academics going forward, measuring poetry. No! We’ll not have that here. No more Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. Now, in my class, you will learn to think for yourself again. You will learn to savor words and language. No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. I see that look in Mr. Pitt’s eye like nineteenth-century literature has nothing to do with going to business school or medical school. Right? Maybe. Mr. Hopkins, you may agree with him, thinking “Yes, we should simply study our Mr. Pritchard and learn our rhyme and meter and go quietly about the business of achieving other ambitions.” I have a little secret for ya. Huddle up. Huddle up!
- John Keating: We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, are all noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman: “O me, o life of the questions of these recurring, of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, o me, o life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists, and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
Famous Poets: “But only in their dreams can a man be truly free.”
- McAllister: “Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams and I will show you a happy man.”
- John Keating: “But only in their dreams can a man be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.”
- McAllister: Tennyson?
- John Keating: No, Keating.
Need Encouragement?: “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. And make your lives extraordinary.”
- John Keating: They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, like you. Invincible, like you feel. The world is their oyster. They think they’re destined for great things, like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, like yours. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable of? See, gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Lean in, listen. Do you hear it? Carpe… Hear it?… Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. And make your lives extraordinary.
Sign From Above: “Mr. Nolan, it’s for you. It’s God. He thinks we should have girls at Welton.”
- Charlie Dalton: (answering phone) Welton Academy, hello. He is, yes. Just a moment. Mr. Nolan, it’s for you. It’s God. He thinks we should have girls at Welton.
Sucking The Marrow Out Of Life: “Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone.”
- John Keating: Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone.
Defying Your Father: “For the first time in my whole life, I know what I wanna do!”
- Neil Perry: For the first time in my whole life, I know what I wanna do! And for the first time, I’m gonna do it! Whether my father wants me to or not! Carpe diem!
The Last Goodbye: “O Captain! My Captain!”
- Mr. Nolan: Leave, Mr. Keating. (pause) I said, “Leave, Mr. Keating.”
- Todd Anderson: (climbs up onto his desk) O Captain! My Captain!
- Mr. Nolan: Mr. Anderson, sit down! Do you hear me? Sit down! This is your final warning, Anderson. How dare you? Do you hear me?
- Knox Overstreet: (stands up on his desk) O Captain! My Captain!
- Mr. Nolan: Mr. Overstreet, I’m warning you! Sit down!
- (Pitts climbs onto his desk, followed by Meeks, then more than half the class)
- Mr. Nolan: Sit down! Sit down. All of you. I want you seated. Leave, Mr. Keating. All of you, down. I want you seated. Sit down! Do you hear me?
- John Keating: Thank you, boys.
The Best Dead Poets Society Quotes
For many of us, Dead Poets Society is the movie version of comfort food. Whenever we need encouragement, Mr. Keating will deliver it.
Of course, this is far from the only uplifting movie from Hollywood. Movies like Forrest Gump, Planet Of The Apes, Titanic, Harry Potter, and even The Goonies are all full of inspirational and uplifting movie quotes.
Did we miss your favorite quote from Dead Poets Society? That wouldn’t be much of a surprise, as we could’ve easily quoted the entire script! Let us know if you liked these Dead Poets Society quotes in the comments below.