Dead Poets Society

Neil Perry is a popular, idealistic student at Welton, and one of Keating’s most loyal disciples. As Todd Anderson’s roommate, Neil is instrumental in inspiring Todd to be bolder and more confident. For his own part, Neil is highly intimidated by his father, Mr. Perry, and yearns to find a way to rebel against his family. In John Keating, Neil thinks he’s found a model for rebellion. Neil decides he’s going to become an actor, and gets a part in a school Shakespeare production, lying to his father in the process. When Mr. Perry finds out the truth, he’s so furious with Neil that Neil shoots himself with his father’s revolver, sure that his family will never support his dreams. Neil’s death sets in motion the final chapters of the novel, in which Welton Academy tries to find a suitable scapegoat for his death. In all, Neil Perry is a tragic example of how Keating’s love of freedom and art can go terribly wrong—Neil is arguably more rebellious than Keating himself, to the point where he’s willing to sacrifice his own life for the sake of his beliefs.

Neil Perry Quotes in Dead Poets Society

The Dead Poets Society quotes below are all either spoken by Neil Perry or refer to Neil Perry. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Hyperion edition of Dead Poets Society published in 2006.
Chapter 3 Quotes

His eyes raging, Mr. Perry hissed at his son. “I will not be disputed in public, do you understand me?”

Related Characters: Mr. Perry (speaker), Neil Perry
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Neil Perry Character Timeline in Dead Poets Society

The timeline below shows where the character Neil Perry appears in Dead Poets Society. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Education Theme Icon
Conformity and Success Theme Icon
...“discipline” banner, ands Knox explains that discipline is “respect for parents, teachers, and headmaster.” Finally, Neil Perry, carrying “excellence,” explains, monotonously, “excellence is the result of hard work.” (full context)
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...English this year. Mr. Keating stands and nods—he’s an “average-looking” man, in his early 30s. Neil’s father looks at Mr. Keating suspiciously, since Mr. Keating is a new teacher. (full context)
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Conformity and Success Theme Icon
...say goodbye to them. Charlie Dalton and Knox Overstreet’s parents hug their children affectionately, while Neil Perry’s father just stands stiffly by his son. Todd Anderson, whose parents aren’t in attendance,... (full context)
Chapter 2
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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As the boys leave Nolan’s office, Neil Perry greets Todd—they’ve been assigned to be roommates. Todd explains to Neil that his older... (full context)
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The boys enter their dormitory. Cameron tells Neil that Neil’s roommate is a “stiff,” without seeing that Todd Anderson is standing next to... (full context)
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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Knox, Charlie, and Meeks greet Neil and Todd and ask Neil about taking chemistry at summer school. They agree that they’ll... (full context)
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Suddenly, there’s a knock on the door—Neil’s father enters the room, and Neil becomes visibly nervous. (full context)
Chapter 3
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Rebellion and Passion Theme Icon
Mr. Perry, Neil’s father, has just entered Neil’s room. The boys greet Mr. Perry politely. Mr. Perry tells... (full context)
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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Outside, where they’re alone, Mr. Perry angrily tells Neil never to contradict him in public again. Mr. Perry reminds Neil to listen to his... (full context)
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Back inside the dorms, Neil tells his friends that he won’t be working on the paper, and they tease him... (full context)
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Alone in their room, Neil and Todd talk about their fathers. Todd mutters that he’d take Neil’s father over his... (full context)
Chapter 4
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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Conformity and Success Theme Icon
...first day of class, and the junior boys wake up extra early. Todd admits to Neil that he’s feeling nervous, and Neil assures Todd that he’ll get through the day without... (full context)
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Conformity and Success Theme Icon
Rebellion and Passion Theme Icon
...former students in the photographs are whispering, “Carpe Diem.” Abruptly, the bell rings. After class, Neil observes that the lesson was “different.” Cameron worries that Mr. Keating is going to test... (full context)
Chapter 5
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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Rebellion and Passion Theme Icon
...a family his father knows well—and, as Cameron informs the rest, major Welton alumni donors. Neil sees Todd lost in thought, and invites Todd to his friends’ study group that night.... (full context)
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The next day, Mr. Keating begins the English class by asking Neil to read the introduction to the textbook, “Understanding Poetry.” The introduction argues, in dull, jargon-filled... (full context)
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As Neil reads, Mr. Keating scrawls a graph of “artfulness vs. objectives” on the blackboard. When Neil... (full context)
Chapter 6
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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At lunch, Neil shows his friends an old Welton “annual” (i.e., yearbook), in which there are pictures of... (full context)
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After classes, Neil and his friends see Mr. Keating leaving school. Neil, addressing his teacher as “O Captain!... (full context)
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Later that evening, Neil suggests that everyone sneak out to the old cave—a traditional Welton meeting place. Cameron is... (full context)
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After dinner, Neil asks Todd to come to the Dead Poets meeting in the cave that night. He... (full context)
Chapter 7
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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...Welton, and the junior boys are carefully planning how to sneak out that night. When Neil goes back to his room, he’s surprised to see an old book on his desk—inside... (full context)
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
Conformity and Success Theme Icon
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...come to the old cave. Inside, the boys manage to light a fire with candles. Neil calls to order a meeting of the Dead Poets, explaining that he and his friends—except... (full context)
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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Men, Women, and Love Theme Icon
...that includes the line, “I thank whatever gods may be / For my unconquerable soul.” Neil reads “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which concludes, “To strive, to seek, to find, and... (full context)
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The next day, Neil and his Dead Poet friends sit in Mr. Keating’s class, exhausted from their activities. Mr.... (full context)
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...dorm, trying to write a poem and tearing up sheet after sheet in frustration. Suddenly, Neil bursts in, waving a flyer advertising an upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at... (full context)
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Todd nervously asks Neil what his father would say if he found out that Neil was auditioning for a... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Rebellion and Passion Theme Icon
...to write his poem, and becomes so frustrated with himself that he breaks his pencil. Neil bursts in—he’s gotten the part of Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The other boys... (full context)
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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...he goes on. When Todd falls silent, Keating smiles and whispers, “Don’t you forget this.” Neil and the other students begin to clap for Todd—and “for the first time,” Todd smiles... (full context)
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That afternoon, Neil, Todd, and the other Dead Poets show up at the cave. Charlie has brought his... (full context)
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Men, Women, and Love Theme Icon
...Knox at all, but Knox insists that he’s overjoyed that Chris was “thinking of me.” Neil mutters that he hopes Knox doesn’t get hurt. (full context)
Chapter 9
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Neil bikes to Henley Hall to rehearse A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He acts, opposite Virginia Danburry... (full context)
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When Neil gets back to school, he finds Todd, sitting by himself outside the gates, holding a... (full context)
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...worth $5.98 unless he tried to improve himself. “No wonder Todd is so screwed up,” Neil thinks. Todd concludes that his parents don’t love him. (full context)
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Back in the cave, Neil, Cameron, and Charlie are outside, gathering logs for a fire. Charlie / Nuwunda explains that... (full context)
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...start accepting female students, so that the boys don’t have to “beat off” as much. Neil is irritated with Charlie for behaving so recklessly and implicating the Dead Poets in his... (full context)
Chapter 11
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It’s winter at Welton, and Todd and Neil are busy going through lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in preparation for Neil’s upcoming... (full context)
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Todd and Neil walk back to their dorm—and inside, Neil is shocked to find his father, waiting for... (full context)
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Neil joins his friends in the dining hall and explains that his father is forcing him... (full context)
Men, Women, and Love Theme Icon
...being away from Jessica. Suddenly, there’s a sound, and Mr. Keating enters the room. Sheepishly, Neil tells Mr. Keating he needs to talk to him alone. The other students leave the... (full context)
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Once Neil and Mr. Keating are alone, Neil explains that his father is making him quit the... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Knox returns to Welton. Mr. Keating’s class has just ended. Keating calls Neil aside and asks him how his talk with his father went. Neil lies and says... (full context)
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Love Theme Icon
The play is beginning, with Keating, Chris, Knox, and the other Dead Poets in attendance. Neil immediately gets the audience’s attention as Puck—he’s an excellent actor. As the play goes on,... (full context)
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After the play, the Dead Poets go to the dressing room to congratulate Neil. Charlie, however, finds Virginia, still standing on the stage. He tells her, “Bright light shines... (full context)
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Back in the dressing room, the theater director alerts Neil—Mr. Perry is in the theater, and he looks furious. In the lobby, Neil finds Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Neil, his mother, and his father are gathered in their home. Mr. Perry tells Neil that... (full context)
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Neil sits alone in his room: he feels himself to be “a brittle empty shell.” (full context)
Chapter 14
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
Rebellion and Passion Theme Icon
Back in the Perry house, Neil finds a key and opens the drawer of a desk. He puts on his Puck... (full context)
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...in the Perry house, Mr. Perry wakes up—he’s heard a loud noise. He runs into Neil’s room to find Neil, clutching his father’s revolver, covered in blood. (full context)
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
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...to Welton very late. Early the next morning, Charlie wakes Todd up in his bed. Neil is dead, Charlie explains, stone-faced: he shot himself. Todd is so shaken he runs to... (full context)
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Neil is buried in Welton town, and the Dead Poets carry his coffin at the funeral.... (full context)
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...blamed for the tragedy and fired from Welton. If it weren’t for Keating, he claims, Neil would still be alive, dreaming of being a doctor. Todd angrily tells Cameron that he’s... (full context)
Chapter 15
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A few days after the events of the last chapter, the investigation into Neil’s death is almost complete. One by one, Dr. Hager marches the students into Headmaster Nolan’s... (full context)
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...other members of the Dead Poets Society to engage in “reckless, self-indulgent behavior” and encouraged Neil to disobey his father, resulting in Neil’s death. Nolan explains that, thanks to the students... (full context)