Transcendentalist Values In Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society

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In the movie Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir, a teacher teaches his students to seize the day. John Keating is the new English teacher in the ultra-conservative and prestigious school Welton Academy, where he educates his students on transcendentalist values through outlooks like poetry. Some of the students, including the timid and weak-willed Todd Anderson, his roommate and aspiring actor Neil Perry, a rebellious yet witty boy named Charlie “Nuwanda” Dalton, and, a boy madly in love with a girl in a public school, Knox Overstreet, are greatly influenced by Keating’s teachings, and start a secret club called the Dead Poets Society. During their meetings, they spend time reading poetry, telling stories, discussing their feelings, …show more content…
He strives to be the center of attention, believing himself to be ”above the law” and the voice most agreed upon. His actions, though hilarious, are often reckless and are shunned by his peers. He believes what he does is seizing the day, although it is commonly not what is thought of as carpe diem. In a way, however, he is living by carpe diem in a warped and immature way. Take for example, when he tells the Dead Poets that his new name is Nuwanda, he does it to give himself his own identity, despite people still calling him Charlie. In the same scene, he tells the Dead Poets that he slipped an article into the school newspaper, addressing the school to start admitting women into Welton, saying it is from the Dead Poets Society. Everybody but him in the Society disagree, as it could kick them out of the school, but he does not care. Once the school assembles the students to discuss the article, Nuwanda stands up and says, “Welton Academy, hello. Yes he is, just a moment. Mr. Nolan, it 's for you. It 's God. He says we should have girls at Welton”. He is promptly punished, and Keating tells him that he was not sucking the marrow out of life, but rather “choking on the bone”, basically telling Nuwanda that he is defeating the whole purpose of seizing the day. He uses the idea of carpe diem to cater to his taste of both transcendentalism and romanticism, warped may …show more content…
Neil lived to act. Not as in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” act, but to act a falsified life in front of everyone. He lived on the track his father wanted for him to follow, and he came back to it no matter how far off-course he got. But once he got into acting, he strayed too far from the track and could not fulfill the wishes his father had for him. He realized all he has ever known is an illusion, and the only way to escape the pain he was suffering was to kill himself. So, in the debate as to who is responsible for his death, it was not Mr. Perry or Mr. Keating, but rather it was Neil himself. The only way to for him to seize the day was to end the day

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