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: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hyperion edition of Dead Poets Society published in 2006.).
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.
...“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)
...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)
...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)
...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)
...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)
...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)
...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)
...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)
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)
...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)