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.  


     Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film directed by Peter Weir, written by Tom Schulman, and starring Robin Williams. Set in 1959 at the fictional elite conservative Vermont boarding school Welton Academy, it tells the story of an English teacher who inspires his students through his teaching of poetry.

     The plot centers on the influence of Mr. Keating, a young and exciting English teacher who is determined to teach his students to live life with absolute passion through word Carpe diem. Mr. Keating managed to make his students to love poetry. He did something that other teachers did not do. This movie is about what happens when these students decide to pursue their own desires and to live life with the passion that Mr. Keating encouraged.  

     For me this movie is full of values and beliefs. In any society, the instrument that shapes individual according to the movie, students are expected to be guided by the beliefs and value of the school. Every Welton students are required to trust the doctrine of the school without any conscious, these have been the normal tradition of the school. Mr. Keating's in a way did not only help his student with the values and beliefs of the school but he guided his students into an expended awareness of life's possibilities.

     Second, my opinion is I quite do not like the ending because for me killing yourself or suicide is not the solution. As what Neil did at the ending, it is very disturbing. It makes me feel uncomfortable and more paranoid to face the world. I felt that he should never think about suicidal. Yes, I do understand how he feels, but death is the end of everything. If he was still alive, he can try a new things, as what his parents wanted. I am a kind of person that really afraid to try a new thing, but I never feel that I should do that. If he was still alive, he can negotiate with his father. The moment that Neil’s father asked what he felt, he decide to stay silent and said nothing. I could not see his afford to be an actor. I do love his character and I wish he can pursue in that field. I do cheers and feel very happy for him when I watched the scene that he got the main role for the theater. I felt so happy and I do understand how he felt because I do experience that same thing last year.

     Third, I do love how all the characters interact with each other. I really love the friendship between Neil Perry, Knox Overstreet, Richard Cameron, Steven Meeks, Gerard Pitts, and Charlie Dalton. They were seven of them after a shy Todd Anderson begins his senior year of high school at Welton Academy. He is assigned one of Welton's most promising students, Neil Perry, as his roommate and is quickly accepted by Neil's friends. This is so wonderful and I wish that I also have this kind of friendship. My heart is really broken when Todd was running in the snow when he knew that Neil was dead. I was crying when I watched this scene, and I do remember that Neil was the only one who wish and be with Todd at the night of his birthday. I do agree that family comes first then everything, but sometimes teenagers do feel comfortable to share and tells a lot of things with their peers. It is normal for us because peers sometimes are more understanding because they do experience it.

     I also want to include about Mr. Keating. I do love him. The way he taught and inspired the students was very awesome. Subsequent lessons included having them take turns standing on his desk to teach the boys how they must look at life in a different way, telling them to rip out the introduction of their poetry books which explains a mathematical formula used for rating poetry, and inviting them to make up their own style of walking in a courtyard to encourage them to be individuals. I still remember once my English teacher said to me that “When you know something, try to look at it from different angle. Language, education... They are beautiful”. Honestly I was very inspired and impressed with all of my English teachers by looking how their words absorb into my heart and I do take lesson from it. My English teacher also said that “Everyone have their own problems and struggle, but the thing is how they solve and handle it”. I kept that word since today.

Dunia Iqmar Effendy