‘O Captain! My Captain!’ How Well Do You Know The Literary Allusions In ‘Dead Poets Society’?

We’ve , but no role showcased his ability to teach and inspire quite as perfectly as his character in Dead Poets Society. As the maverick English teacher John Keating, he taught us to change our perspective, write expressively, and seize the day. Keating introduced the boys of Welton to literary greats like Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Whitman. But how well were you paying attention?

The following quiz tests your knowledge of the various literary allusions in Dead Poets Society. Don’t forget to share your results in the comments below. Good luck! 🙂

1. Let’s start with the biggie. Keating tells the boys that if they’re feeling especially daring, they can call him “O Captain! my Captain!” Which poet said that line first?

  • Shakespeare
  • Keats
  • Whitman
  • Tennyson


Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

2. Who was the original “Captain” to whom the poem refers?

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • George Washington
  • No one knows
  • The King of England

Abraham Lincoln

3. Neil reads aloud a quote from Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” What book is it from?

  • Civil Disobedience
  • Walden
  • Walking
  • The Maine Woods


Robin Williams as John Keating

Robin Williams as John Keating

4. Keating does an impression of Marlon Brando doing Shakespeare: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your ears!” Which play is it from?

  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Coriolanus
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

5. And which character delivers the line?

  • Julius Caesar
  • Marc Antony
  • Brutus
  • Cleopatra

Marc Antony

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

6. Finish the Walt Whitman quote:

  • I sound my barbaric yawp — I too am untranslatable.
  • I sound my barbaric yawp, and drift in lacy jags.
  • I sound my barbaric yawp as the spotted hawk swoops by.
  • I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.

I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.

7. Neil gets the part of Puck in the school play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Who is Puck?

  • A lover, lost in the woods
  • The king of the fairies
  • Robin Goodfellow
  • One of the mechanicals

Robin Goodfellow

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

8. Keating shouts “Carpe diem! Seize the day! Gather ye rosebuds while ye may!” Where does the “Gather ye rosebuds” line come from originally?

  • “The Faerie Queene” by Edmund Spenser
  • “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick
  • “Goblin Market” by Christina Rosetti
  • “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” by John Donne

“To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick

9. In the cave, Neil reads a Tennyson poem that goes like this: “Come my friends / Tis not too late to seek a newer world.” Which poem is it from?

  • “Ulysses”
  • “In Memoriam A.H.H.”
  • “The Lady of Shalott”
  • “The Charge of the Light Brigade”


“Words and ideas can change the world”

10. Finally, the “O Captain! my Captain!” part is probably one of the most famous parts of Dead Poets Society. What is the next line of the poem?

  • “Fallen cold and dead.”
  • “the prize we sought is won,”
  • “our fearful trip is done,”
  • “O heart! heart! heart!”

“our fearful trip is done,”

How many answers did you get right?0 Votes


Nostalgia never gets old. Find me on Twitter @gen_vanvee