Dead Poets Society - The Message of the Dead Poets
Teachers are wonderful heroes. In the movie, Dead Poets Society the teacher/hero is John Keating, played magnificently by Robin Williams. The film takes place at a small preparatory boys' school (Welton Academy) in the late 1950's. The story follows the lives of a group of students and the way that Mr. Keating's teachings influence them. He encourages the boys to become freethinkers and to live life for the moment. The message hallowed by Keating is one of mortality--do not waste your life, for you will get no other, and when you are "food for worms" will the world have been a better place because you were in it? This message is prevalent throughout the film.
Keating brings to the abnormally strict classroom something that the timid boys have never seen, enthusiasm. On the first day of class, he tells his students to rip the boring and scientific-type preface from their books. The act in itself is one of defiance and is but one action that draws the boys to Keating. The friendly good nature of Keating leads the lonely and impressionable boys to accept him as their mentor and father figure. Mike McGrady, a writer for Newsday, describes Keating as "a free spirit who takes his text from Rabelais as he urges his young charges to "suck the marrow from the bones of life" and echoes Horace with his: "Carpe Diem, lads. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary!" (3). Sadly, it is Keating's dogmatic charisma that proves to be his undoing as "the drama races from high comedy to heartbreak to tragedy" (3). His "live life for the moment" attitude leads the boys to a sorrowful fate and in the end Keating is sacrificed by the school for the good of the boys. One can only wonder if the director, Peter Weir, was trying to emulate the sacrifice that Christ made for his followers. If this is not the case, certain symbolism found in the architecture cannot be missed.
The architecture of Welton Academy appears gothic and reminiscent of old England. Perhaps this...