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There is a balance to ideals in individuality and truth, both at positive and negative extremes. The movie Dead Poets Society by Peter Weir captures the incredible role romanticism and embracement of truth on an individual’s life, separating the ability to enjoy life from the mechanical ability to live. Through the development of Neil Perry and Todd Anderson the importance of individualism and romanticism is explored. Once fully embraced, passion and personal need can open life to epic change. The transition from being obedient students lacking individuality, to boys who take risks for what they want in life is shown alongside the growth of daring and passionate personalities. The importance of truth to an individual is to embrace one’s passion as it relates to the romanticized, free from cynicism. Obtaining and keeping genuine truth to oneself is imperative to living a fulfilling life as suggested in this text.
The movie explores the need for truth within an individual to live a free life, while not conforming to a larger group’s expectation and standards. Truth in the Dead Poet’s Society is not a matter of what the environment surrounding an individual expects, but rather holding to the values and ideals of the individual. Weir explores the ideas of honesty with self by creating suppressed characters who break out to follow their inner passion and learn to express themselves freely by taking a stand for something that matters in their hearts. The most influential working instrument of this idea was the radical teachings of Mr. Keating to search for individuality and “Seize the day.” The introduction of Mr. Keating allows the students, especially Neil and those of the Dead Poets Society, to reach out from the strict path leading to a rich career to one filled with the wealth of passion, self-discovery and dreams. Prior to Mr. Keating’s arrival, the boys were taught conformity and traditional values as displayed in the opening scene of the movie where all boys stood up to recite the four pillars of Welton Academy. Particularly in Neil Perry’s life – as his father is strict in directing all energy to studies – the stern regiment of the academy drives him the most to be an obedient son and abandon all of his own thoughts and wants. A major change that exemplifies the significance of idealism is Neil’s sudden willingness to go behind his father’s back to explore his passion for acting. This idea constructs a base reason for the rest of the rebellious actions Neil and the other boys will take.
Only needing a push towards embracing individuality, the characters of few of the boys develop to eventually truly understand the teachings of their new English teacher and apply them to their lives. With the guidance of Mr. Keating, the boys regroup the formerly separated Dead Poets Society to explore the wonders of poetry. At this point the boys adopt to what Welton’s academy would consider juvenile and lost actions that goes against the four pillars of conformity and discipline. The most outgoing of the group, Charlie Dalton, takes bold moves to publicly speak against what is expected of him while risking expulsion several times throughout the movie. Dalton shows his rebellion by first publishing an article to open the school to girls and then to actually getting expelled in the name of standing up for Mr. Keating in the face of Neil Perry’s death. Similar to Dalton, many other boys make bold moves that they would not have prior to gaining the self-respect that enabled them to pursue their own desires.
The ideas developed by Weir in the inspirational movie Dead Poets Society forces a new perspective on the subject of the romanticism of life through a setting that curses individual thinking. It is clear from the many illustrations in character development that Weir’s ideas of idealism in an individual is the most important factor in gaining appreciation for life and finding reason to live.
“Truth is like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold. You push at it, stretch it, it will never be enough. You kick at it, beat at it, it will never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying to the moment you leave dying.” Todd Anderson (Dead Poets Society).
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