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Dead Poet's Society - Movie Analysis

Essay by   •  June 27, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,044 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,307 Views

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In the movie, "Dead Poet's Society," the first lesson John Keating taught his students was to focus and follow the idea of "carpe diem." He encourages everyone to seize the day and take advantage of every moment in their life, because they may never see that opportunity again. Likewise, Peter Meinke's poem, "Advice to My Son," is also about teaching lessons for use in life. In many ways, Keating's lessons and Meinke's advice relate, but there are also certain contrasts where one should not go towards extremities.

The first couple of lines of "Advice to My Son" directly relate to the theme of carpe diem. Meinke starts his poem with, "The trick is, to live your days/as if each one may be your last" (Meinke 805). The theme of taking advantage of every opportunity was a major point in the movie, causing many beneficial and some non-beneficial events to occur. While some students are able to find positive results to their daring escapades, such as landing a date with a girl they like, Neil Perry takes the motto a bit too far. The following lines "(for they go fast, and young men lose their lives/in strange and unimaginable ways)" (Meinke 805) seem eerily foreboding of Neil's fate as a result of his seizing the day.

Up until this point in time, Neil's relationship with his father is not very good. He is constantly in control of Neil's life, telling him what to do, which career choices to

make, and which colleges he will attend. His father's relationship relates to the next few lines in the poem, "but at the same time, plan long range," (Meinke 805) because he is planning out everything for Neil for the long term, however without any of his son's input. Neil saw an opportunity to perform in a play at his school, which is something that he always wanted to do. Acting was his passion and he saw this as a gateway to the future that he wanted. When his father found out and ordered him to quit, Neil was crushed under the pressure of going on with the play, defying his father, or listening to his authoritive figure. Because Keating had been a much better father figure to him than his own dad, he went to him for advice. Keating told Neil to face his father and talk to him about what he wanted to do in life, but Neil ended up ignoring the advice and lying to his teacher. He went through with the play and his father found out, deciding to pull him out of the school and put him in a military school.

Because of Keating's earlier advice, he could be seen as a good father figure for his students. However, Neil's fault here is that it is difficult for him to accept other people's ideas, reasons, or advice. He ended up not being a good "son figure" to both his teacher and his real father when he defied them both. Keating taught him to seize the day, but when he tried to teach



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