"Well, I better find a job. Let's see. Business section. Ooh-la-la. What do we got here? The Maitlands, huh? Cute couple. Look nice, and stupid, too."
This quote introduces Beetlejuice. We cannot see his face, but we see him from behind skimming through the paper and looking at the listings for people who are recently deceased. This quote reveals the type of schemer that he is. Like any typical scammer, he looks for the "easy mark," seeking out people whom he believes will be too sweet and naive to see through his scam. He wants to take advantage of people who are more vulnerable than him.
PREACHER: Do you, Lydia, take this man...
LYDIA: Not Beetle-
BEETLEJUICE: She's a little bit nervous. Maybe I should answer for her, okay? I'm Lydia Deetz and I'm of sound mind. The man next to me is the one I want. You asked me, I'm answering. Yes. I love that man of mine.
This is yet another example of Beetlejuice using his verbal sleight of hand trickery in order to get what he wants. When he realizes that Lydia does not want to marry him, he takes on her voice, and speaks for her in her voice using his magical powers. This moment shows Beetlejuice's inability to accept a "no" answer. He characterizes Lydia as completely willing to marry him, even though she is not. Beetlejuice manipulates the world around him to reflect his desires, without any care for what other people want.
"I cannot watch this. What's the point of being a ghost if you can't scare people away?"
Barbara wants to use her ghostly abilities to scare the Deetzes out of the house, but is held back by her inability to be frightening. Barbara and Adam really don't know how to be ghosts, which makes it hard for her to drive out the brash New York family from her beloved farmhouse. The quest to be frightening leads her to humorous lengths, but never to much avail. Here, she bemoans her fate as an ineffectual haunt.
Barbara Maitland:We're very unhappy.
Juno:What did you expect, you're dead.
Here, Barbara tries to complain about the presence of the Deetzes in their house, telling Juno, their salty counselor, that she is unhappy. Without skipping a beat, Juno gives it to her straight: things aren't exactly easy when one is dead. This line shows Juno's sarcastic and impatient temperament through her snappy response to the Maitlands' naivety about being dead. In her eyes, their expectations are too high if they expect to be happy and dead. The line also reveals the casual, comical way death is characterized in the film.
"My whole life is a dark room: one, big, dark, room."
Lydia is a photographer. When she first enters the house, she takes pictures of everything. Her main hobby is watching things transpire, and her attitude throughout most of the movie is depressive and dejected. In this quote, Lydia speaks explicitly about her depression, engaging in word play around the word "darkroom." A darkroom is a place for photographers to develop film, but Lydia separates the two words into "dark room," meaning that she feels psychologically exiled to a dark room, a morbid chamber of her own despair.
Adam Maitland: What are your qualifications?
Beetlejuice: Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard Business School. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK?!?!?!?!? You think I'm qualified?
This quotation reveals the contradictions of Beetlejuice. While he is a scheming and deceptive villain, he also has a snappy sense of humor. When Adam asks him what makes him qualified to help them, Beetlejuice launches into a manic diatribe, a snappy routine that builds in intensity, crescendo-ing into a rant about his appreciation for the movie The Exorcist, a film that most people find horrifying, but that he thinks is a laugh riot.
"I will live with you in this hellhole, but I must express myself. If you don't let me gut out this house and make it my own, I will go insane and I will take you with me!"
Here, Delia becomes apoplectic while lamenting to her husband Charles about her fears about living in the country. She wants badly to refurbish and refurnish the house in her gaudy urban style with Otho's help, and when Charles tells her that he doesn't like their design scheme, she utters this indignant monologue. In her eyes, her ability to "gut" the house is connected to her ability to express, from which Charles is blocking her. She threatens that if he doesn't let her re-do the simple farmhouse the way she wants to, she will lose her mind and ruin his life in the process.
Adam: You can see us without the sheets?
Lydia: Of course I can see you.
Adam: Well, how is it you see us and nobody else can?
Lydia: Well, I've read through that Handbook for the Recently Deceased. It says: "Live people ignore the strange and unusual." I, myself, am strange and unusual.
When Lydia is able to see the Maitlands, they are surprised, as none of the other members of the Deetz family has been able to see them. They question her ability to see them, and she tells them that the reason she can see them is that she is an unusual girl, so she is able to see strange and unusual phenomena in her environment. Because Lydia is looking out for the uncanny, she is able to ghosts. Here, Lydia is aligned with the Maitlands, a special young girl who can commune with the dead.
“I’m the ghost with the most, babe.”
This is one of Beetlejuice's signature catchphrases. Even though he is a grotesque predatory ghoul, he often says outrageous and amusing things. Here, he creates a rhyming turn of phrase to describe himself. It's a fairly simple phrase that means very little, but it reveals a lot about Beetlejuice's clownish attitude.
“Oh, sounds like Lydia got an ‘A’ on the math test.”
At the end of the film, Charles and Delia sit in their room and hear the sound of Harry Belafonte music downstairs. The sound of the music is evidence of the fact that the Maitlands have allowed Lydia to dance to the music and levitate in the living room as a reward for her good marks on a math test. The Maitlands have taken over the role of parents for Lydia, leaving Delia and Charles to lounge and obsess about themselves in the study upstairs. Charles says this to Delia proudly, happy that she has made some friends in the ghosts who live in their house.
Beetlejuice Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Beetlejuice is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.