Dead Poets Society is a deeply moving story about all male students in Welton Academy, the most elite and prestigious school in America that is known for its ancient traditions and high standards. The students are surprised when an English teacher, John Keating, who is also an alumnus of the school, uses unorthodox teaching methods which are very different from strict lessons by realists and anti-youth administration. His methods have successfully reached out to his students who are facing enormous pressures from their parents and the school itself. They finally learn to break out of their shells, pursue their dreams and seize the day.
Carpe diem is a Latin expression used by Keating encouraging his students to make their lives extraordinary. This sentiment used by the main character which means seize the day helps students to live their lives to the fullest, making them be braver to get out of their comfort zones and be unique individuals while they are still alive and breathing. “We are food to worms” is a quote from one of the scenes telling us an important message that we should strive to actually live instead of just staying alive. Students in the age of 17 to 21 are in the midst of confusions and finding themselves. Some have insecurities, some may be too shy, some can be too obedient, and some even do not know how to express themselves well. Keating’s ways of teaching and thinking inspire students to take risks in their daily decisions that can be life-changing.
As can be seen by one of the seven main students in the movie, Todd Handerson is painfully shy and he is terrified that what he might say is meaningless and insignificant. His pessimism discourages him to do a poetry assigned by Keating in one of the scenes in the movie. Keating then instructs the boy to make one up in the spur of the moment by a picture of Walt Whitman hanging on the wall. By pulling such an aggressive yet kind coaching towards the boy, Keating has not only reached out to Handerson, he also managed to build that poor boy’s confidence.
Similarly, Neil Perry who is bright, also is in uncertainty when he does not know what he really wants to do in life while he is restrained by his overbearing, controlling father. When he finally realizes that his real passion in life is acting, he then proceeds to seize the day by taking the role of Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream at the local theater. Mr. Perry, on the other hand, only wants what is best for his son. He is unwilling to look at Neil’s standpoint on life, as it did not appear as Neil had a concrete idea on what he wants to do. Thus, Mr. Perry dictates his son’s life including extra curricular activities, future plans, and specifically what others think of him. Keating suggests Neil to tell his desires and wishes to his father but he never did. Without his father’s consent, he continues to act as the main character in the play.
In my opinion, teachers in school play a big role in shaping students’ personalities and their judgments besides parents. Students spend most of their time in a learning institution than at home. Their perspectives mostly come from many sources that seem fitting to them to help them face challenges in the real world. Nonetheless, most of education systems made by rationalists have not only blocked students mind from thinking on their own as to what this movie is trying to show, they too, are restraining students from their creativity and believes. To illustrate, most of the students in Welton Academy are forced and are used to follow the traditions of the school until they were shocked in accepting Keating’s teaching method. They find his irregular classes odd and funny.
Keating then continues his teaching by instructing his students to rip off the pages of “Introduction to Poetry” that was written by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard which describes poetry according to mathematical plotting to determine the greatness of it. He is trying to demonstrate freedom of expression and deliberately bring into being freethinkers. From Keating’s perspective, romanticism allowed far more freedom than realism and it presents not only a fresh outlook on life, it also opens new ways to express themselves in ways they possibly can. To put it in simpler words, romanticism is what keeping us alive and truly living while realism is what keeping humans strive and revolutionize.
Words are a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation that functions as a principle carrier of meaning. Words are the roots of literature and writings. Dominant and meaningful words can change mindsets. Poetry can make people feel things deeply. Literature produces imaginary images in our heads. Phrases as simple as “Carpe diem” can lead to thousands of different meanings that can be seen by thousand other perspectives.