These are ten of the most shockingly selfish quotes from Daniel Plainview.
10“I Want No One Else To Succeed.”
Perhaps the greatest quote to represent Daniel’s selfishness and greed is his famous “I Have A Competition” speech. It begins, “I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people.” And really, that just about sums up the entirety of Daniel’s character and personality.
He is intensely driven, and he capitalizes on the capitalist system, driving out all competition and attaining all the money and success for himself. And, it’s one thing for his actions to represent his selfishness. It’s something else for him to just come out and say “I want no one else to succeed.”
9“I. Drink. Your. Milkshake!”
The famous “I drink your milkshake” line was memed to death in 2007, and while the phrasing is certainly funny, it again speaks to Daniel’s utter selfishness. The end of the movie sees Eli approaching Daniel with an offer to drill on Bandy’s land.
However, Daniel had long ago drained Brandy’s oil with something called slant drilling from neighboring wells. Daniel wonderfully uses the analogy of a very long straw drinking someone else’s milkshake to explain the process to Eli. He took all the oil for himself, even though it legally didn’t belong to him.
8“No One Can Get At It Except For Me!”
Very few things amuse Daniel Plainview. But money, and the prospect of money, certainly does. As he excitedly explains, “There’s a whole ocean of oil under our feet! No one can get at it except for me!”
This quote, much like his “I Have A Competition In Me” speech, represents the very ideals of capitalism and the lengths that some people will go to to attain their success. Daniel attained the “ocean of oil” fair and square, and as such, it belongs to him. “No one can get at it except for [him],” and that is a very good thing for him, indeed.
7“No He Isn’t.”
Daniel’s character is wonderfully summarized through his relationship with H.W., a somewhat adopted son that Daniel uses to his own benefit.
When Daniel strikes gold out in the desert, H.W. is deafened by the resulting explosion. While Daniel initially sees to his safety and well-being, he quickly leaves him to observe the gushing oil. And when Fletcher asks if H.W. is okay, Daniel bluntly states, “No he isn’t.” It’s telling that Daniel is there, watching his oil with glee, rather than being with his now-deafened son. Money is greater than family.
6“I Needed A Sweet Face To Buy Land.”
Daniel doesn’t see to his son because H.W. isn’t actually his son, and he doesn’t see H.W. as his son. He admits as much at the end of the movie, when H.W. approaches him to dissolve their business partnership.
Daniel looks his “son” square in the face and claims, “You’re an orphan from a basket in the middle of the desert, and I took you for no other reason than I needed a sweet face to buy land.” Finally the truth is revealed – Daniel does not have a heart, and he never had a genuine, personal connection to H.W., he was nothing but a tool to attain more money.
5“I’ve Abandoned My Boy!”
One of the greatest and most iconic scenes from There Will Be Blood sees Eli tormenting Daniel and forcing him to admit that he abandoned H.W. When H.W. proves too problematic and gets in the way of Daniel’s relationship with Henry, Daniel sends him away to a school for the deaf in San Francisco.
This culminates in the fantastic church sequence, in which Daniel literally screams to the heavens, “I’ve abandoned my child! I’ve abandoned my boy!” It’s a thrilling acting showpiece for the legendary Daniel Day Lewis, and a perfect summary of Daniel’s character.
4“I’m Going To Bury You Underground, Eli.”
One of the running themes throughout There Will Be Blood is the dichotomy and battle between religion and self-serving greed.
This is represented through the spiritual animosity between Eli and Daniel, which results in the horrifying line. It also proves prophetic, as Daniel does indeed murder Eli at the end of the movie. It’s capitalism and greed winning over religion. Speaking of which…
Much has been written and debated regarding the ending of There Will Be Blood. The final line in particular – “I’m finished” – has garnered a wide array of discussion and debate regarding its meaning and thematic relevance to the story.
Some see it as Daniel’s soulless admittance, that he is “finished” in regards to morality and spirituality. Others see it as a victory, a proud declarative statement – he is “finished” with Eli, and therefore, his mission of destroying religion and all of its connotations. Regardless, Daniel is alone, he is sad, and he is bloody. He is “finished” in many respects.
2“Why Don’t I Own This?”
The Bandy land serves as a wonderful illustration and representation of Daniel’s all-consuming greed. After buying the Sunday ranch, he wants all of its surrounding property. One of the holdouts is William Bandy, as he refuses to sell his land.
When Daniel learns of this he is none too happy, asking, “What’s this? Why don’t I own this?” referring to the unclaimed Bandy land. “Why don’t I own this?” could be the tagline for There Will Be Blood, as it wonderfully summarizes the themes of the movie.
1“They Can’t Get That If They’re Up Here Listening To Your Gospel.”
There’s another speech between Daniel and Eli that wonderfully summarizes both the themes of the movie and the dichotomy between Eli and Daniel. After one of Daniel’s men is killed in an accident, he approaches Eli to reprimand him.
He summarizes his frustration, telling Eli, “We need these men well rested to bring in this well. They can’t get that if they’re up here listening to your gospel, and then the well can’t produce and blow gold all over the place.” In the end, all Daniel wants is his results and his money, religion and worker contentment be damned.