Dead Poets Society Poetry Analysis Essay

Psychological Themes in "Dead Poets Society" Essay

541 Words3 Pages

In the movie Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams's character as Mr. Keating the English teacher is a hero. "Carpe Diem, lads! Seize the day! Make your lives drastically. Keating's viewpoints and thoughts on life stayed the same throughout the movie no matter what conflict was occurring. The students that Keating taught were the ones who changed. They became more independent in their thinking and discovered what they wanted out of life. The change in these students is what caused the main conflict of the movie.

The conflict arose in Dead Poets Society as Keating's philosophies about life were challenged. Keating's fellow teachers at the conservative Welton Academy did not agree with his non-conformist method of teaching.…show more content…

His father wants him to go through medical school and become a doctor, but Neil himself has his heart set on acting. His father lashes out on him for disobeying and Neil reacts drastically by committing suicide. This brings up the question whether or not Keating's coworkers were right when they said boys that age can't handle that kind of freedom. Did Neil really need conformity in his life, or did his father push him too far into conformity? I would like to believe that we as human beings could deal with complete freedom in life, but unfortunately we probably could not handle it.

I do believe that Robin Williams's character as Mr. Keating was justified in his methods of teaching. Personally the teachers I have had that are similar to Mr. Keating have been my favorite teachers and people that I will never forget. They have taught me a lot about life and learning. I believe that it is healthy to think independently and have the freedom to live as you want to and not how someone else wants you to. Obviously Mr. Keating thought that his methods of teaching were justified as well or else he would have followed the methods of all his coworkers as conflict arose. Instead he held strong and did not change, proving that he felt he was justified.

I have had teachers similar to Mr. Keating's character and I admire those type of people more than anybody. They have so much passion and they love

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Dead Poets Society features a myriad of famous poets and their works. As one example, John Keating tells the more daring among his students that they may refer to him as "O Captain! My Captain!" a reference to Walt Whitman's poem of the same title. Born in 1819, Walt Whitman considered the American Civil War one of the central events of his life. A staunch Unionist throughout the conflict, he grew to love President Abraham Lincoln after an initially indifferent opinion of him. He wrote "O Captain! My Captain!" about Lincoln following his assassination. The poem, one of the most well-known classic poems of today, is classified as an elegy to the late president. That the students use it to refer to Mr. Keating, particularly in the iconic final scene of the film in which they proclaim it as they stand on their desks, draws a direct parallel between Lincoln and Keating as revered men gone too soon—in Lincoln's case, referring to his death, and in Keating's, to his being fired.

The boys invoke a famous quote by Henry David Thoreau at the beginning of each meeting of the Dead Poets Society: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life..." The quote is taken from Thoreau's book Walden, which he wrote about spending more than two years on his own in a small cabin by Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. The book focuses on living simply and with purpose, and has been called everything from a social experiment to satire to a manual for self-reliance. No doubt, the cited quote mirrors what the boys themselves do through the Dead Poets Society: going to the woods to recite poetry to one another, and eventually to express themselves in many ways, including storytelling, dancing, and playing the saxophone. Many of the boys feel that the academic shackles that hold them are unjust, and some, especially Neil, fear that when it's their time to die and begin "fertilizing daffodils," as Mr. Keating glibly put it, that they will "discover that [they] had not lived." The quote is therefore an effective and appropriate one to use to begin each of the Society's meetings.


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