Dead Poet's Society Essay

925 words - 4 pages

Dead Poets' Society takes place at the ritzy Welton Academy, a boys' boarding school. At the opening of the school year, accomplished student Neil meets his roommate, Todd, a painfully shy kid whose unseen older brother recently graduated as one of the school's most prominent and successful figures. At first, Todd can hardly bring himself to speak, and is more than a little intimidated when he meets Neil's noisy and well-established group of buddies. Among the buddies are the sweet and sincere Knox, the unsettled and aggressive Charlie, the brainy Meeks, the competitive and shallow Cameron, and the gangly and awkward Pitts. These guys have known each other a while, and they have established routines like study groups and inside jokes that make it hard, at first, for Todd to fit in.Things aren't particularly easy for Neil, either, given that his overbearing father is pushing hard for medical school and pushing Neil right out of everything else he enjoys. His father is unfortunately oblivious to benefits of that kind, and so he is hostile to the very idea of time-wasting extracurriculars. The overattention of Neil's parents is a sad counterpoint to the underattention of Todd's, who appear to be so uninterested in him that they manage to unwittingly give him the same meaningless birthday gift two years in a row. Into these kids' rather choked lives comes a breath of fresh air in the form of their new English teacher, John Keating. On the first day of class, he leads them to the trophy case with the old team pictures in it. He encourages them to "lean in" and see if they can understand what he's trying to tell them. It all comes down to what was just a saying in Latin before this movie and became a far more overused cliche after it -- carpe diem, or "seize the day." Keating believes that high school is not just a time to get ready to be in college, but should be a time of growth, both intellectual and emotional.As is bound to happen in movies, this life philosophy is carried out in a series of gimmicky classroom exercises like yelling out famous quotes about success and passion and then kicking a soccer ball, or standing up on the teacher's desk for a different perspective. As the boys begin to get into all this day-seizing stuff, they discover that when he was a student at Welton, Keating was part of a group called the Dead Poets' Society. The things that arise out of that discovery, as well as a new interest in theater, begin to make Neil more and more uncomfortable about things with his father. As Neil explores his budding intellectual freedom, Knox applies Keating's teachings to...

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