30 Dead Poets Society Quotes That Are Motivating For All

Carpe diem. Seize the day boys!

Nashrah Ansari

Feb 26, 2021|12 min read


Dead Poet Society is a multi-layered paradox, plummeting society's normalized structures, a story about a progressive English teacher starring Robin Williams as John Keating, an iconoclast, along with other quintessence characters with intrinsic acting, who tries to galvanize his students to break free from the norm, go against the status quo and live life unapologetically.

Dead Poets Society Quotes and Dialogues

When the core theme of 'Dead Poets Society' made literal: contemplate life from a different perspective by the act of rebellion of students standing on top of their desks and proclaiming, 'O, Captain! My Captain!, saluting their think-outside-the-box teacher John Keating, Even the ocean stills.

Mr Keating can develop something special with his students, which ought to be present in today's world, and this film has been voted the most excellent school film and one of the most inspirational. The film shows the impact of the teacher-student relationship on the learning process. 

It teaches us to resolve to lead lives of passion, thinking out of the box, conviction, and that your life is your own and you have to write the story but don't stress about the end as the ending has long been decided.

A little overripe in places, Dead Poets Society quotes are nonetheless a solid go-to flick to get very inspired.

1) So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavour, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.

Touché. In this quote from 'Dead Poet Society,' Robin William had this excellent classroom advice. Sometimes we use words like 'very' to add emphasis, but the problem is we seldom overuse those words. When we overuse words, they lose their meaning to be more creative and powerful while speaking the language and using different words.

2) No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

The Dead Poets Society quotes circle back to the film's central theme, thinking outside the box and doing something out of the ordinary. Great ideas can come from anywhere: caves, laboratories, workshops, garages, but their impact has reached, making significant leaps in human ingenuity transforming the world in ways that would now be hard to imagine life without them. Your idea might be the one that could change the world, and nobody can tell you otherwise.

3) If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - Carpe - hear it? – Carpe, Carpe Diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

It all starts with a change in perspective. So said Professor Keating in this Dead Poets Society quote, met with raised brows from bright-eyed boys and the staff around. The boys have been trained to live and work, a life governed by exams and high expectations, imagining a world that looks much different from what they were taught. Still, their adventures take flight once they each push through fear and step out of the ordinary, finally learning to live unapologetically, making their lives extraordinary.

4) I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.

"Think Different," said John Keating. Excellent advice, obviously, to all creators, artists, and entrepreneurs out there. When you look at the world, see it differently, think differently, consider what is around you, and break things down into pieces outside the comfort zone. This method will teach you to see things differently, and you can end up seeing what no one else has yet seen. Basically, that is how the future is built!

5) 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!

Neil’s exclamation of “Carpe Diem,” a direct reference to Keating’s teachings, his enthusiasm at the possibility of becoming an actor proves both the passion brimming within him and the influence of Mr Keating, a tragic irony since he was unable to do what he wasn't because of his father's strict hold. The person you want to be, your ideal self, is sometimes being smothered by the person you "should" be. Yes, it's tricky, but you'll get the point if you think about it hard. If so, you may feel it's time for a change. You can start by taking baby steps and living freely, not bound by any restraints.

6) I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself.

This quote from Dead Poets Society is from the exchange between John Keating and Headmaster Nolan. Keating's unusual teaching methods begin to catch up to him as Nolan personifies everything Welton stands for: culture, discipline, and rules that stand the test of time. On the other hand, Keating, while respecting these beliefs, thinks otherwise, and it's the struggle between himself and his companions as well as the boys and the administration.

7) There's a time for daring, and there's a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.

This quote from Dead Poets Society acts as a prime example of how we need more teachers like Keating's. This emphasizes that he wants the boys to get educated, go through graduation, and not get expelled following his teachings.  He considers himself their teacher first, before anything else, as an authority figure in the boys' lives and draws the line between him and his preacher.

8) Neil Perry: So what are you going to do? Charlie?
Charlie Dalton: Dammit, Neil, the name is Nuwanda.

This becomes the crucial turning point of Dead Poets Society as Charlie corrects Neil. He indicates that not even a beating from the headmaster could change the fact that he 1. is loyal to his fellow poets and wishes to keep the Society's name inspired him to do so.

9) I'm exercising the right not to walk.

The rebel, Charlie Dalton, proves at many points throughout the film how quick he is to get on board with Mr Keating's unconventional teaching methods. By saying this, he demonstrates that he understands Keating's lesson in choosing to have his own style of walking be one of stillness.

10) The difficulty in maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others. Now, those of you -- I see the look in your eyes like, "I would've walked differently." Well, ask yourselves why you were clapping. Now, we all have a great need for acceptance.

Throughout your life, you will develop your own values, beliefs and attitudes and contribute a sense of who you are and how you view the world. You don't have to adapt to someone else's values but be aware of your own personal values, beliefs and attitudes.

11) You must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, "That's baaaaad." Robert Frost said, "Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.

This is the continuation of the above quotes and is from the scene when Mr Keating takes the boys outside to illustrated conformity. He explains the need for acceptance, to be accepted by others, just for being ourselves. To not be ostracized, but he adds we should be unique, not conformed. And it's okay to take the road less travelled by!

12)  I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.

Keating clarifies the encouragement to make the most of life by poet Henry David in the above quote as a reminder. He tells his students not to move through life in a reckless pass or behave irresponsibly. But to live the fullest unapologetically.

13) Only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.

Keating says this during an exchange between him and Mr McAllister, as Allister feels that the Welton boys need structure set out for them, whereas dreams may "fetter" their hearts while eating argues that they should use their dreams to be free. Keating's alternate views of how boys should be educated are demonstrated in this quote.

14) "This is battle, boys," he cried. "War! You are souls at a critical juncture. Either you will succumb to the will of academic hoi polloi, and the fruit will die on the vine - or you will triumph as individuals.

In today’s highly competitive world, students face various academic problems; you either succumb to the academic will or triumph as individuals. You need to understand your intellectual capabilities, what is expected of you and try not to have unreasonable expectations.

15) 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?

Legacy. That's what this whole bunch of Dead Poets Society quotes is all about, the legacy you have to leave in the world. We exist in life to find our verse, the purpose which is a compass, guiding you over life's path, keeping you centred and focused. The powerful play refers to the role that we have in our lives to influence others. So what will your verse be?

16) Seize the day. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.

At the prestigious Welton Academy, the students are indoctrinated to believe in a simple, straightforward model of how to live their lives, but then  John Keating delivers these words to his students on the first day of school, symbolizing his desire to inspire his students to “make their lives extraordinary.”

17) Cause I love teaching. I don’t want to be anywhere else.

When Neil Perry asked why he chooses to stay in school instead of going to London to be with his wife, he said the above-mentioned lines. His passion for education has significantly shaped a lot of lives, especially his students.

18) Have no fear, you will learn what this school wants you to learn in my class; however, if I do my job properly, you will also learn a great deal more. 

And indeed they did. Keating’s words ring true to his students because they represent an alternative to the ideas they’re used to hearing from their teachers and parents, that is living according to the will of others rather than their own, but soon it changes as they break the norm and try living their life to fullest.

19) Truth is like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold. You push at it, stretch it; it will never be enough. You kick at it, beat at it, it will never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying to the moment you leave dying.

Keating comes close to Todd, leans in softly and tells him, “Don’t you forget this.” Words are powerful. They hold the capacity to change the world, and Dead Poets society quotes really finds their grooves to deliver how transformative and effective the power of words can be.

20) Mr Anderson thinks that everything inside of him is worthless and embarrassing. Isn’t that right, Todd? And that’s your worst fear. 

Here Keating encourages Todd by saying the line mentioned that his words, thoughts, ideas are and that he is valuable and he is fully conscious of Todd’s fears and insecurities.

21) The human race is filled with passion!

Because life truly is all-too-short, you should make the most of your time on the earth by exploring your passions and living accordingly. And that's what was Keating's goal as an educator to teach his students to think and live for themselves.

22) We must constantly endeavour to find a new point of view.

Everything we see is perspective. If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. By altering our perception, we can change our reality.

23) Let me dispel a few rumours so they don't fester into facts.

This is when John Keatings addresses his students and this quote from the dead poet's society is considered one of the best speeches.

24) Carpe, carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.

As John Keating teaches his students to value their own individuality above adhering to rules, he stands on his desk, as he speaks, not to feel more towering, but to mention himself that we need to continually look at things differently. So, Carpe diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary!

25) 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. And medicine, law, business, engineering are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

A doctor, an engineer, lawyer that's what people usually choose as their profession, a noble pursuit necessary to sustain life in this world. This bunch of Dead Poets society quotes threaded together gives an insight by Keating that beauty, romance, and love are what we stay alive. To create balance in the world, some of us need to choose the road less travelled by!

26) This is a battle, a war, and the casualties could be your hearts and souls.

Keating unknowingly captures Neil's life's eventual loss in this quote, indeed a sombre moment of foreshadowing. The word 'battle' and 'war' holds much meaning, such that the boys being taught to live up to the expectation, putting up with the conservative authority that dominates their life at Walton. Their urge to break free from that captor's hold of domination becomes the battle that ultimately costs Neil his life and breaks his friends' hearts.

27) When you read, don’t just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.

By saying this, John Keating definitely brings attention to literature and novels. Every so often, it's hard to decipher some things in literature, such as specific actions or reassuring themes. If you try to look at it differently, say the author's way, you will undoubtedly better understand. Dead Poets Society quotes stress looking at things differently, in this quote, looking at it from a different perspective.

28) You must strive to find your own voice, boys, and the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.

Keating not only inspired his pupils to revel in their learning but implored them to embrace their passion and live up to their full potential by following their own paths in life. He became the blueprint for the very best teachers worldwide and has impacted the choice of career, acting as a foundation stone of educational philosophy.

29) College will probably destroy your love for poetry. Hours of boring analysis, dissection, and criticism will see to that. College will also expose you to all manner of literature—much of it transcendent works of magic that you must devour; some of it utter dreck that you must avoid like the plague.

Poetry, a qualifying form of art, builds upon the twenty-six alphabets, each having its unique element and layering. Some poetries in the literature are meant to embrace, devoured, and sculpting it gets forever etched in millions' hearts. Still, some other literature needs to be avoided, like the plague.

30) We are sorry, we are for you, we love you, and thank you.

Towards the end of the movie, Mr Keating unfairly loses his job; as he leaves, the boys make a final gesture, and it did speak louder than words ever could. They stand up on their desks, mimicking one of his cornerstone lessons in the film, expressing their gratitude towards him.

Dead Poets Society Movie Still

In the movie, the boys re-form a secret club that Mr Keating started when he attended Welton. This club becomes the connection for brotherly fellowship, adolescent fun, and growth. I wish more movies of this nature were made today. 

The Dead Poets Society quotes reflect the value that we can conquer the demons within us and around us if we try hard enough. It is the lifting up and deification of humanity. Mr Keating is different. He inspires and wants the boys to find their verse in this great play that is the world.

We can't help but hope for more teachers like Mr John Keatings who not only inspires but stands on the desk, urging us to look at the profound meaning of life and tell us the line we longed to hear in the confines of our structured lives. Carpe diem. Seize the day!

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Nashrah Ansari

I am passionate about writing and love reading poems and novels. Apart from that, I also love getting lost in fictional worlds, for a while since I don't have to deal with my dilemmas. I firmly believe that every upcoming writer should be allowed to represent themselves. I’m so thankful to feeding trends for allowing me to express myself.



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