Dead poet society : individualism Essay

Individualism can be defined as a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual. The book The Dead Poets Society, shows us in many different ways how to find our own source of independence. There are many occasions where the boys we begin to meet, show opposition to what their true goal were to portray. They all gave us their own ideas for giving meaning to life. There are several situations in which the boys acted individually and disobeyed authority, in order to pursue their own dreams. Let us examine the man behind the “carpe diem” phrase, Mr. Keating. He is not just an ordinary teacher. He is an alumnus of the school, Welton Academy. As an active member and well educated man, he pushes his new students to seize the day by not “succumbing to the wall of academic hoi polloi’’ (5.4). With his outlandish style of teaching he opens his students’ minds to “triumph as individuals” (5.4). He himself has once been in their footsteps, he knows how the pressure of authority can weigh on an individual. Later in the story we view this. In the first chapter we see a boy as the name of Neil Perry, who has become a victim to the negative effects of pressure to follow the career his father set.

Chapter 14 Neil’s suicide illustrates the painful consequences that can occur when authority is allowed to overpower tradition. His good friend Todd Anderson quoted, “He couldn’t kill himself. He loved living.” (14.151) we see that Neil had put up with his father so long that he became lost, changing him into a doomed slave. When he found a passion for performing arts he immediately felt freedom. He loved everything about this new change. The play A Midsummer Night’s Dream inspired him to be a new character and feel like everything did not matter. He knew that his actions would cause an uproar in his father, but his self-discovery over shadowed his thought. When he was unable to communicate with his father he knew that life would not get better if he lived two lives. He chose to end it leaving his mark on his father, teacher and friends’ lives. A person that showed a positive outcome from over ruling tradition is Knox Overstreet. He becomes obsessed with a girl of the name “Chris” He quotes “How do I love thee?” (7.54) Knox has never actually met this girl before. In the end he ends up risking his life and reputation to win her heart. He took a dramatic risk by pouring his heart to her in front of her peers.

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Beforehand, he tries a number of times to show that her boyfriend Chet is not the guy for her. Chris eventually gives in to his attempts. She attends the play with Knox and even shows affection for him. These characters take authority for their choices. Knox succeeds, he has triumphed, and he has beat his authority figure, Chet. These two characters serves as a reminder that authority should always act as a teacher or an example not as an overbearing power. That was an outcome in Neil’s situation. We should challenge ourselves and be our own person and not a robot to others opinions. Self-discovery and free thinking captured these characters and transformed them into new individuals.

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