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Romantic and Traditional Mentality in Dead Poets Society

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The movie Dead Poets Society represents the impact of the romantic and traditional mentality. Mr. McAllister is an advocate of the traditional and outlined path to life, while Mr. Keating openly welcomes the romantic carpe diem philosophy. Which way of thinking is best? The two have benefits, but both have flaws, especially when it’s taken to the extremes. The most careful and educated approach to executing life choices takes the best from the romantic attitude.

In Dead Poets Society, Neil Perry, who is passionate about acting, runs into a dilemma that could potentially ruin his quest to become an actor. His father has already set Neils future occupation as a doctor, causing an overwhelming amount of stress between making his father happy and himself. Neil seeks help from Mr. Keating, trying to figure out what the best thing to do, Mr. Keating said, “Stay true to yourself”. Keating believes that if Neil continues to follow his father’s lead, Neil will be miserable and end up confused. Hence, he wants Neil to be honest and open up about his feelings, Mr. Keating knows that Neil will just temporarily forget about it and make his father happy, instead of figuring things out in the long haul.

One significant advantage to the romantic mindset is that there is a greater opportunity to find meaning and fulfillment in life. Neil Perry, as stated before, is someone who finds acting as more than just a hobby. Neil has always wanted to sign up in a play, and with the opportunity at Henley Hall, he takes it. When Neil confesses his plan to secretly join with a forged note to Todd Aderson, his roommate, Todd questions if he really wants to go through with it. Neil declares that, “For the first time in my whole life, I know what I wanna do! And for the first time, I’m gonna do it! Whether my father wants me to or not! Carpe diem!’’. Acting has been a dream of his for a long as he could remember. Neil finds that his true meaning in life is acting, even with his father’s disapproval, he realized that this play is the start of what he really wants to do in life.

Another important reason to follow a romantic’s mindset when young is that an individual is less likely to make costly and time-consuming mistakes. When Knox Overstreet started to catch feelings for Chris, all he did was think about her. After having a meeting with the other dead poets, Knox realizes that he’s been “calm” his entire life and wanted to do something about it. He’s determined to ask Chris out even though he knew she has a boyfriend. Knox takes the leap and calls her after stating to his friends, “carpe diem….even if it kills me”. Thus, while taking a risk that can potentially ruin his relationship with Chris, Knox knows that if he doesn’t call her, he’ll only waste time fantasizing over her and will never know if he’d have a chance.

The movie Dead Poets Society, portrays a clash between Romantics and Traditionalist between multiple characters throughout the movie. Although there are countless scenes where a traditionalists mindset does have its pros, a romantic mindset is the only way a high schooler could experience its full youth years before entering adulthood. Romantics believe in taking risks in order to obtain the happiness an individual wants. Someone who followed the romantic mindset is famous YouTuber and influencer, Colby Brock. In high school, he was bullied for pursuing his social media career in Vine. Many students would bully him and his partner, Sam Golbach, for the videos they created even though it was something that not only they but their fans enjoyed. He decided to start a YouTube channel and move out to California at 18, where he now uses the slogan “Take Chances” to represent all the risks and decisions he took to get where he is now today. With 2.1 million fans, he always reminds them to take a chance and have fun in every exploring video. All in all, concluding that a romantic mindset is the best way a highschooler should follow.

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Romantic And Traditional Mentality In Dead Poets Society. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from
“Romantic And Traditional Mentality In Dead Poets Society.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
Romantic And Traditional Mentality In Dead Poets Society. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 Jul. 2022].
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