Transcendentalism In Dead Poets Society

1227 Words 5 Pages
As one of the most well-known movies in America, does Dead Poet’s Society promote the controversial ideas of transcendentalism? Furthermore, should Mr. Keating’s advice be followed? While some may say the movie demotes transcendentalism based off of the characters’ rather unfortunate endings, the ideals of the movie prove otherwise. The movie follows the story of Mr. Keating, a teacher who imbues private school students with transcendentalist values, and because he is the main protagonist, the audience roots for him. Through his lessons and perspective, director Peter Weir uses Dead Poet’s Society to support the transcendentalist ideas of nonconformity, free thought, and confidence. While the movie does not end happily for him and his students, …show more content…
Keating. Nonconformity is first demonstrated when Mr. Keating makes three of his students walk in a circle until their steps become synchronized. He then stops them to warn the class about the dangers of conformity: “Now we all have a great need for acceptance, but you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, that’s bad.” This quotation relates to the famous transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson when he writes in his essay “from Self-Reliance”, “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowds keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude” (593). In this quotation, Emerson describes the best type of person as one who can maintain “the independence of solitude” such as his or her own ideas even when society says otherwise, much like what Mr. Keating is explaining to his students. Later on in the movie, the head of the school, Mr. Nolan, acts as the antagonist of the story as he questions Mr. Keating on his teaching method. Mr. Keating argues, “I always thought the idea of educating was to learn to think for yourself,” to which Mr. Nolan replies, “At these boys ' ages? Not on your life! Tradition, John. …show more content…
Keating’s lessons and perspective, the movie Dead Poet’s Society reflects and advocates certain transcendentalist ideas such as nonconformity, free thought, and confidence. As Mr. Keating reveals the harsh truths of society, he inspires his students and the audience to break free and adopt a more transcendentalist mindset. The movie targets teens because they can change before it is too late, and as students at a private school much like the one seen in the movie, it is important to consider the movie’s ideals before becoming an

Related Documents