In 1959, shy Todd Anderson begins his senior year of high school at elite boarding school Welton Academy, a prep school in the Northeastern United States. One of the most promising students at Welton, Neil Perry, is assigned as Todd's roommate and Todd is quickly initiated into Perry's circle of friends, including mischievous Charlie Dalton, romantic Knox Overstreet, high-flying overachiever Richard Cameron and best friends Gerard Pitts and Steven Meeks. On the first day of classes they are surprised to find that their new English teacher, Mr. Keating, is both entertaining and unorthodox, himself a Welton alumnus whose innovation in the classroom brings English class alive. He encourages his students to make their lives extraordinary and summarizes this sentiment with extorting them in Latin "carpe diem" (seize the day). Unfortunately this is in direct contrast to the ethos of the school where living a traditional and conformist life is preferred to living an extraordinary one.
John Keating's inspirational classes also include standing on his desk at the front of the classroom as an illustration to his students that they should try to look at life from a different perspective, and telling them to rip out the introduction section of their poetry books which explains a mathematical formula used to rate poetry. He also encourages them to create their own style of walking across the courtyard to encourage them to be individuals. Individuality is the antithesis of Welton's ethos, and not surprisingly, his teaching methods come to the attention of Gale Nolan, the strict and archaic headmaster.
Neil Perry discovers that Mr. Keating was once a member of the secret and unsanctioned "Dead Poets' Society" when he was a student at Welton. Neil restarts the club and each night he and his friends leave campus without permission and go to a cave where they read poetry, and write and recite their own compositions as well. As the school year goes on, Mr. Keating's classes and their involvement with the Club continue to inspire them to live life on their own terms; Knox Overstreet pursues Chris Noel, a girl who is dating a football player and whose family is friends with his. Neil Perry discovers a passion for acting and wins the lead role in a local production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, despite the fact that his cold and domineering father wants him to attend medical school not pursue a carter in the theater. Mr. Keating also helps Todd come out of his shell and takes him through an exercise in self-expression to help him realize his potential. The exercise culminates with Todd spontaneously composing a poem in front of the class.
Unfortunately, Charlie Dalton's inspiration leads him to go too far, and he publishes an article in the school newspaper under the byline of the Dead Poets Society, demanding that girls be accepted to Welton. Headmaster Nolan uses corporal punishment to try to force Charlie to tell him who else is a member of the club, but he refuses. Nolan also warns Keating that he must discourage his students from questioning authority or else face consequences of his own.
Neil's father discovers he is performing in the play and demands that he quit on the eve of his first performance. Neil is devastated and turns to Keating for advice; his teacher advises him to stand his ground and stand up to his father to demonstrate his seriousness about acting. The following day Keating asks if he has spoken to his father and Neil lies, saying that he had, and that he will be permitted to pursue an acting career provided his schoolwork does not suffer. The lie is discovered when Neil's father unexpectedly appears at the performance, taking his son home and then forcing him to go to military school so that he can go to Harvard and study medicine. Terrified of his father and at a loss for what to do, Neil commits suicide.
Gale Nolan, the headmaster, begins an investigation into the suicide at the request of the Perry family. Attempting to escape punishment for his own membership in the Dead Poet's Society, Richard Cameron tells Nolan that Neil's death is entirely Keating's fault. He names Overstreet, Meeks, Pitts, Anderson, Dalton and Perry as his fellow members. Charlie confronts him, but Cameron urges the others to put the blame on Mr. Keating. Charlie refuses and punches Cameron, which causes him to be expelled. Each of the boys is called to Nolan's office to sign a letter attesting that Cameron's version of events is true. When it is Todd's turn he does not want to sign but does so when he sees that the others have signed already.
Keating is fired and Nolan takes over teaching his class. Keating interrupts class to collect some personal possessions from his desk, and before he leaves Todd stands on his desk and salutes Keating with the words "Captain! My Captain!" Knox, Steven, Gerard and over half the class does the same. Todd shouts that they were forced to sign the letter and that Neil's death was not his fault. Deeply touched by this gesture, Keating thanks them.
Essay/Term paper: Dead poet's society-significant experiences
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the twists of life.
Significant experiences are moments in life that create change not only in one"s present period of life, but also dramatically alter one"s view of the surrounding and forthcoming events. The impacts of such experiences are the opening of new doors in life, the realization of possibilities one would have never imagined sitting right under one"s nose and the perception of details one never thought important before. They mostly temper peoples views of events, shedding a different hue of light upon them, revealing multiple possibilities that were once left in shadow. In Dead Poet"s society, a handful of students discover through the exuberance of their English teacher what kinds of lives they had been leading, and what their lives could be. One student in particular, Neil Perry, discovers a whole new world and his life is irreversibly changed as a result of the impact of his association with Mr. Keating.
The lives of all the boys were drastically changed the day they met Mr. Keating. "Carpe Diem" he told them. "Seize the day, make you lives extraordinary." With these few words, Mr. Keating opened the minds of his students to the broad possibilities that life held for them. The boys learned that they deserved more than the daily routine, that they were not satisfied with living up to the expectations of others. As a result, they re-established the Dead Poet"s society, and consequently experienced what they had been protected from previously. The most significant change wrought from both the arrival of Mr. Keating and the re-instatement of the Dead Poet"s Society was Neil Perry"s change in attitude. He realized what his dreams were, and to accomplish them, he had to do something he had never dared to do in the past, disregard the will of his father. Having lived under the iron rule of an oppressive father his entire life, Neil"s spirit was in danger of smothering to death. The Dead Poet"s Society and Mr. Keating reawakened Neil"s half-drowned spirit and encouraged Neil to strive towards what he thought was important, not what his father thought was important. Neil"s life was drastically changed as a result of his meeting Mr. Keating, from a life dedicated to school, to a life dedicated to living. The impact of this association with Mr. Keating was that Neil was a different person after, he attempted to break free of the conformity that was suppressing him and his view on life became brighter and more hopeful.
For Neil, the significant experience of meeting Mr. Keating also changed his outlook on the future. Instead of constantly studying and dreading disciplinary action from his father, he began to look towards the good things in life. He realized that his dream was to become an actor, and that acting gave him happiness and hope that he had never had before. Acting was Neil"s hope for the future, it let him grow and experience life"s true joys, joys that he could not have even wished for in the past. The greatest impact that Mr. Keating had on Neil was that he taught him to look past the wishes of others, to see what was really wanted out of life. Neil had been living a life created by his father, working towards goals set by his father, and growing up to be his father. After meeting Mr. Keating, Neil broke free of the bonds his father had tied around him and tore off the blinders that had restricted his view of his life. He saw things from his own point of view, acted as he wanted, not as his father expected him to. His reaction to and perception of events that occurred after his significant experience were radically different than those of events preceding his experience. The most important decision Neil made in the entire movie, however, was the one to kill himself. This was a decision made by the new Neil, the Neil with a mind and future of his own. The old Neil would have grudgingly accepted his fate, and lived a frustrated and desperate life working towards his father"s goals. A direct result of his relationship with Mr. Keating, Neil"s suicide showed that he was in control of his life, that it was in fact, his life and he wouldn"t let anybody ruin it but himself.
Neil"s suicide was both a shock and an inspiration to his peers. One of their friends had just died, but he had died for something he believed in. Neil was an inspiration not in the sense that they believed they should all shoot themselves, but in the sense that they now knew they could stand up for themselves and did not have to be afraid of the consequences. The impact of being taught by Mr. Keating was evident in the other boys in their reaction to Neil"s death. They all had learned what life held in store for them, and they all understood that it had been Neil"s choice to do what he had done. To his peers, Neil"s death would be remembered as his way of openly defying his father, the school and everybody and anything else that had ever gotten in the way of his dreams. If Mr. Keating had not entered their lives, Neil"s friends would most likely have simply grieved for their loss of a comrade, and never thought about why it had happened. If Mr. Keating had not have entered their lives, there would not have been a reason for it to happen in the first place.
Neil"s and Mr. Keating"s messages in the movie were the identical, that one has to stand up for what one believes in, and not living at all is better than living someone else"s life. "Make your life extraordinary." Through their connection with Mr. Keating, the boys all discovered that living up to their own expectations was both the hardest and most satisfying experience in life. Every last member of the Dead Poet"s Society was affected by Mr. Keating, and all of them will carry his advice with them for the rest of their lives. Through significant experience, one encounters change, and the impact of all this is the new path one"s life takes as a result.
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