12 ‘Dead Poets Society’ Quotes That’ll Encourage You to Seize The Day

Dead Poets Society

A cinematic gem and masterpiece are what ‘Dead poets Society’ is. The story of an English Teacher, John Keating (played by Robin Williams), who inspires his students to grasp poetry with a different perspective of genuine knowledge and emotion. Not only does Keating teach his students about literature and poetry, he also educates them about life and living it to the fullest. 

Teaching in the conservative all-boys preparatory school of Welton Academy, he is expected to meet the high standards of the institution and to follow their age-old traditions. But this new English teacher chooses to reach out to his students with his unorthodox methods and encourages them to go against the status quo. He helps his students, who are heavily pressured by their parents, to break out of their shells and supports them to pursue their dreams – to seize the day. 

Dead Poets Society is just one of those movies that leave a lasting impression on your perspective of life, irrespective of where you are at in life. In arguably one of his best roles in film, Robin Williams delivers some of the most memorable and inspiring quotes through the character of John Keating in this classic, unforgettable movie.  

Related: 12 Robin Williams Quotes on Life, Money, Love, Comedy, Forgiveness, Loneliness, and More

Here are 12 quotes from Dead Poets Society that will encourage you to seize the day: 

1. “Carpe, carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

seize the day

This is probably the main ‘punchline’ of the whole movie. Living extraordinary lives is worth the effort it takes to do so.

2. “Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone.”

dead poets society

With a subtle play on the words of Henry David Thoreau, John Keating reminds his students that living life to the fullest doesn’t mean getting out of hand and losing pace in life.

3. “‘O Captain, my Captain.’ Who knows where that comes from? Anybody? Not a clue? It’s from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you’re slightly more daring, O Captain, my Captain.”

dead poets society

Keating prefers to be called ‘O Captain, My Captain’ instead of a ‘Sir’ to build a special bond with his students, one of his many unorthodox approaches towards teaching.

4. “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!”

dead poets society quotes

For those that feel like they’ve been silenced by the pressures of this world, it’s time to find your voice and speak up for yourself.

5. “When you read, don’t just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.”

dead poets society

Forming original opinions and thoughts is what sets us apart from those who choose to mindlessly follow the crowd.

6. “But only in their dreams can man be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.”

robin williams

When Mr. McAllister says, “Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams and I’ll show you a happy man,” this is Keating’s reply. The teacher guesses Keating is quoting Tennyson, but these words are his very own.

7. “Just when you think you know something, you have to look at it in another way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try.”

Dead Poets Society Quotes

The value of new perspectives is under appreciated by closed minded people. Open your mind to perceive things from new perspectives.

8. “There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.”

daring and caring
Dead Poets Society Quotes

Keating was a great example of someone who dared to break the rules. After all, a slight change is what makes all the difference.

9. “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

ideas, change
Dead Poets Society Quotes

This is what it looks like when someone practices what they preach. Keatings words and ideas sure change the minds and hearts of his students.

10. “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, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” 

Dead Poets Society Quotes

Keating’s passion for what he truly believes is portrayed in these lines. His love for poetry, beauty, romance, love is unmatched, so much that he couldn’t help but share it with his students.

11. “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 endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.” 

Dead Poets Society Quotes

Keating thinks that very is a ‘very’ lazy word simply because he believes there are so many better words to choose from to paint vivid pictures on the canvas of our imaginations.

12.”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?” 

Dead Poets Society Quotes

This is a powerful reminder from Keating to his students – what will you contribute through your gift of life? How will you be remembered?

Related: Learning The Art of Enjoying Life With These 6 Helpful Tips

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