Dead Poets Society positions the audience to see Welton as a rigid, oppressive and destructive place.
Throughout the unravelling of Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society, the audience are often faced with the reality that attendance at Welton College would be undesirable. The physical and mental stresses endured by students due to the harshness and unforgiving nature of the school is underlining in many instances. Strict and unyielding authoritarian figures compel pupils to live in a damaging and caustic world, and to be placed under immense levels of anxiety and tension. The cruel world in which our impressionable young characters are forced to live in results directly in the tragic death of Neil Perry.
During the screenplay, Welton is repeatedly shown to be a school where pupils are entrapped. Religious followers of the “Empty Vessel Theory”, Welton’s authority confine students to the four walls of their school building, and to the four wall of their mind. This theory reinforces the feeling of imprisonment Neil felt before his suicide. The boys are educated by books, and rely heavily on note-taking and on the blackboard. Classrooms, illuminated by single bulbs and devoid of natural light, give definite impressions as to the students’ state of mind. The lack of luminosity illustrates the deficiency in vigour, vitality and vividness of the boys, and similarly defines the students’ attitude to school life in general – gloomy, mournful and depressed. Similarly, the boys’ faces are usually shrouded in darkness, emphasising the deficiency in cheerfulness, and in the ending of their free spirit and will. Imprisoned physically, mentally and spiritually, the boys are unable to wander on the path to self-discovery, and instead are forced to live in a ghastly world in which the only easy option is death.
Peter Weir expresses cleverly the fact that pupils are unable to express their opinions and attitudes, and remain terrified in their silent struggle against tyranny. Camera shots are fast and rapid, and never give the audience a thorough look at the painful life at Welton. Our quick-fire glances of attendance at Welton, is similar as to how the boys only manage small peeks of the freedom of which they should be receiving. The threatening nature of the school stops students from making any impact on how the academy is run, and therefore their views and ideas are never heard. Charlie Dalton, for example, who takes it in his stride to ask Welton’s administration for the admittance of girls into Welton, finishes with severe beatings from his headmaster. The...