Tom Schulman – Dead Poets Society ("Yawp"/Freestyle Scene)
TODD: I, I didn't do it. I didn't write a poem.
KEATING: Mr. Anderson thinks that everything inside of him is worthless and embarrassing. Isn't that right, Todd? Isn't that your worst fear? Well, I think you're wrong. I think you have something inside of you that is worth a great deal.
(Keating walks up to the blackboard and begins to write.)
KEATING: "I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world." W. W. 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." Come on. You can't yawp sitting down. Let's go. Come on. Up.
(Todd reluctantly stands and follows Keating to the front.)
KEATING: You gotta get in "yawping" stance.
TODD: A yawp?
KEATING: No, not just a yawp. A barbaric yawp.
TODD (quietly): Yawp.
KEATING: Come on, louder.
TODD (quietly): Yawp.
KEATING: No, that's a mouse. Come on. Louder.
KEATING: Oh, good God, boy. Yell like a man!
TODD (shouting): Yawp!
KEATING: There it is. You see, you have a barbarian in you, after all.
(Todd goes to return to his seat but Keating stops him.)
KEATING: Now, you don't get away that easy.
(Keating turns Todd around and points out a picture on the wall.)
KEATING: The picture of Uncle Walt up there. What does he remind you of? Don't think. Answer. Go on.
(Keating begins to circle around Todd.)
TODD: A m-m-madman.
KEATING: What kind of madman? Don't think about it. Just answer again.
TODD: A c-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.
TODD: Uh, uh, 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. Now, describe what you see.
(Keating puts his hands over Todd's eyes and they begin to slowly spin around.)
TODD: Uh, I-I close my eyes.
TODD: Uh, and this image floats beside me.
KEATING: A sweaty-toothed madman?
TODD: A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.
KEATING: Oh, that's excellent. Now, give him action. Make him do something.
TODD: H-His hands reach out and choke me.
KEATING: That's it. Wonderful. Wonderful.
(Keating removes his hands from Todd but Todd keeps his eyes closed.)
TODD: And, and all the time he's mumbling.
KEATING: What's he mumbling?
TODD: M-Mumbling, "Truth. Truth is like, like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold."
(The students begin to laugh and Todd opens his eyes. Keating quickly gestures for him to close them again.)
KEATING: Forget them, forget them. Stay with the blanket. Tell me about that blanket.
TODD: Y-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. From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, it will just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.
(Todd opens his eyes. The class is silent. Then they begin to clap and cheer.)
KEATING (whispering to Todd): Don't you forget this.
Edit the description to add:
- Historical context: the work's place in history, how it was received
- A summary of the work's overall themes (example: "Here, Byron evokes the classic struggle between virtue and temptation...")
- A description of the work's overall style and tone