KEATING: Now, who’s next? Mister Anderson. See you sitting there in agony. C’mon, Todd, step up. Let’s put you out of your misery.
ANDERSON: I…I didn’t do it. I didn’t write a poem.
KEATING: Mister Anderson thinks that everything inside of him is worthless and embarrassing. Isn’t that right, Todd, isn’t that your worst fear? I think you’re wrong. I think you have something inside of you that is worth a great deal. (Writing on the chalkboard) “I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world. WW.” Uncle Walt, again. Now, for those of you who don’t know, a “yawp” is a loud cry or yell. Now, Todd, I would like you to give us a demonstration of a barbaric yawp. C’mon, you can’t yawp sitting down. Let’s go. C’mon, up. Now, get in yawping stance.
ANDERSON: (walking to the front of class) A yawp?
KEATING: No, not just a yawp. A barbaric yawp.
KEATING: C’mon, louder.
KEATING: Oh, that’s a mouse! C’mon, louder!
KEATING: Oh, good God, boy, yell—
KEATING: There it is. You see, you’ve a barbarian in you after all. Now, (stops Anderson) you don’t get away that easy. Picture of Uncle Walt up there. What does he remind you of? Don’t think. Answer. Go on.
ANDERSON: A m..m..madman.
KEATING: What kind of a madman? Don’t think about it, just answer again.
ANDERSON: A crazy madman.
KEATING: No, you can do better than that. Free up your mind. Use your imagination. Say the first thing that pops into your head even if it’s total gibberish. Go on, go on.
ANDERSON: A sweaty-toothed madman.
KEATING: Good God, boy, there’s a poet in you after all. There, close your eyes. Close your eyes. Close ’em. (Covers Anderson’s eyes.) Now, describe what you see.
ANDERSON: Uh, I…I close my eyes…
ANDERSON: Uh, and this image floats beside me.
KEATING: The sweaty-toothed madman…
ANDERSON: …the sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain…
KEATING: Oh, that’s excellent. Now, give him action. Make him do something.
ANDERSON: …his hands reach out and choke me.
KEATING: That’s it. Wonderful, wonderful.
ANDERSON: …and all the time he’s mumbling…
KEATING: What’s he mumbling?
ANDERSON: …mumbling truth, truth like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold… (the class laughs)
KEATING: Forget them, forget them! Stay with the blanket. Tell me about that blanket.
ANDERSON: Y…y…you push it, stretch it, it’ll never be enough. You kick at it, beat it, it’ll never cover any of us. (Keating backs away and kneels.) From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, it’ll just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.
KEATING: (Rising) Don’t you forget this.
— Dead Poets Society (1989), written by Tom Schulman
The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Teacher. Today’s suggestion by Will King.
Trivia: The draft that writer Tom Schulman sent out to the studios was his first one.
Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Will: “Anyone who has seen this movie will remember the final scene where his students defiantly stand on their desks in honor of his efforts in their behalf. This scene demonstrates why John Keating became so loved by the students (and audiences). His teaching style helped his students grow, not through knowledge drummed into their brains, but by giving them a chance to grow and shine, even when they didn’t realize they had it within. For me, the great moment in this scene is when Keating kneels to join the class as a student while Todd Anderson recites his impromptu poem and stands as the instructor at the head of the classroom.”