Dead Poets Society And Transce Essay

1919 words - 8 pages

The poets are dead; Transcendentalism lives on Most people look down upon Transcendentalism because they do not know what it means. Transcendentalism is a belief in a higher reality than that found in sense experience, or belief in a higher kind of knowledge than achieved by human reason. Transcendentalism revolves around the existence of absolute goodness, something beyond description and knowable, ultimately only through intuition. The term Transcendentalism became applied almost exclusively to doctrines of metaphysical idealism. In its most specific usage, Transcendentalism refers to a literary and philosophical movement that developed in the United States. Intuition rather than reason ...view middle of the document...

Emerson takes off on that idea and goes on to express the bold statement, "Imitation is suicide"(3). Emerson takes "Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist" to a new level now. He declares conformity is the same as throwing one's own ideas, identity, and soul away, which is the equivalent to ending one's life. Henry David Thoreau has beliefs similar to Emerson on the topic of conformity. In "Walden" Thoreau states "If a man does not keep pace with his/companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer./ Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away" (239-242). To hear a "different drummer" insinuates to believe or act differently from the common consensus. Thoreau asserts that it is all right to think or act in this "different" manner, as abstract from the common as it may be. Dead Poet's Society also relates the idea that self-reliance and individualism must outweigh external authority and blind conformity to custom or tradition through its content. Keating desperately wants the boys to hear something different from what other adults are telling them. "Don't be lemmings," "Find your own walk", "Don't conform; make it for yourself," he almost pleads with them. Mr. Keating wants them to defy the familiar values and follow their hearts instead. All of his lessons have the common thematic idea of non-conformity, which are the singular most important aspects of his teachings. On the first day of class Mr. Keating persuades the young men to stand on their desks. "I stand upon my desk to remind yourselves that we must constantly look at things in a different way" (Dead Poet's Society). Standing on the desk symbolizes individualism, while everyone who merely sits in his or her desk is just conforming to the typical expectation. The most blatant instance of the fight against conformity in Dead Poet's Society is the circumstance surrounding Neal Perry's suicide. After Mr. Perry saw his marvelous performance in "A Midsummer's Night Dream," he brings his son home and roughly tells him, We're trying very hard to understand why it is that you insist on defying us. Whatever the reason, we're not gonna let you ruin your life. Tomorrow I'm withdrawing you from Welton and enrolling you in Braden Military School. You're going to Harvard and you're gonna be a doctor. This is not Neal's dream or wish; he wants to be an actor. After searching his heart, he so chooses to end his life, therefore not conforming to his father's wishes. Neal displays that he does want more out of life than what his family was pressuring him to do, but the fight with conformity was too great for him. In Neal's situation imitation is literally suicide. While Neal is the free spirit who chooses to look deeper than expected, Mr. Perry, whom Neal was fighting, is the epitome of conformity. Mr. Perry neatly places his slippers in the same spot every night. His action asserts the unnecessary structure of conformity. He does this because it is the...

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