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Thematic Analysis of Dead Poets Society

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Peter Holmes March 3, 2002 Dr. Gulley Freshman Comp. 2 Thematic Analysis of Dead Poets Society The theme of Dead Poets Society is about the clash between realism and romanticism that occurs throughout the struggles of Neil Perry, Knox Overstreet, and John Keating. Romanticism is a major theme that is expressed throughout Neil's conflict with his father and Knox's youthful love of a local girl. Keating, the greatest romantic of all, causes both of these sub-plots with his unconventional style of teaching. The other contrasting theme, which is Realism, comes into play when Neil commits suicide and when the school comes down hard on Keating. In the beginning of Dead Poets Society, the students are just arriving back to school for another year. Excited and full of energy, the students greet one another and notice a new member at the school who is the younger brother of a former valedictorian. The students also discover another change. The facility has a new member who is a poetry teacher. ...read more.


Surrounded by excited and happy fans, Neil is at the peak of success. This is abruptly ended when his angered father pulls him from the crowd and scolds him. Mr. Perry then takes Neil home, all the while swearing that he would make sure Neil never acted again. Considering Neil's emotions, he must have been utterly dismayed and terribly hurt. Romanticism had just become realism. This proves true because that night, when his father and mother had fallen asleep, he went into his father's office and unlocked a dresser drawer to get his father's revolver, and then without a word he kills himself. This may have been the only way Neil believed that he could escape the life that was being planned for him and not by him. This is the worst result of problems that arise when adults try to live their lives through their children. Furthermore, it is the tragic ending to Neil's romantic struggle to become an actor. ...read more.


While he is doing this, one of the students breaks out in an outrage about how the school has mistreated Keating. Symbolizing one of Keating's class sessions, were the students were told to get on top of their desk so they could see the room from a different perspective, the student stands on his desk. The principal tells him to get down and even threatens him with expulsion, but he still stands and one by one the other students rise from their chairs and stand on their desks. This represents the strength that Keating instilled in every one of his students, a strength that truly makes them individuals. The individuality that Keating expressed to his students helped them to live life the best way it should be lived, by "seizing the day." This gave many of his students a romantic view on life that had not been demonstrated by the anti-youth faculty at Welton Academy. They were now able to be individuals, not applicable to common rules at the academy. Even though realism finally clashes with romanticism, the students will always remember how good it felt to be inspired by Keating's class sessions. ...read more.

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