Dead Poets Society Sometimes in life people can come along and touch our lives in unexpected ways. This was the case with Mr. Keating and the boys in the movie “Dead Poets Society”. He taught the boys so many lessons that they would have never learned from any other teacher. By looking at scenes from the movie, and lines from the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, we can see just how important the lessons were that Keating was trying to teach the boys. Mr.
Keating reminded them to seize each day and cherish them dearly. From the very first day that Mr. Keating had walked into the classroom you could already see that he had an original method of teaching. He came into class whistling, and then proceeded to take the boys outside the classroom to read them a poem, and announced that they can call him ‘Captain O’ Captain’. His first important lesson was “Carpe Diem”, which means seize the day.
He also told them to “gather the roses while ye may”, because one day you are going to die. He then took them to the showcase to show them pictures of former alumni who were once where they were standing, but they are now dead. He was trying to tell them that everyday opportunities await us and we must decide whether to take a chance, or play it safe. He encouraged them to take risks, for nothing is gained without them. This idea is related with something Ralph Waldo Emerson once said : “It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person ‘always do what you are afraid to do'”. Another great mind, Whitman, once said in the poem, “Song of Myself”, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself.” I think what they were all trying to say is that you have to love your self, and live for each and every moment while we still can. Besides “Carpe Diem”, Keating also taught the boys to “walk their own way.” One of the most important lessons that Keating taught the boys was to be an individual no matter what anyone else tells them. This took place in the scene where he took them all out into the courtyard and told them to start walking.
The point of this was to demonstrate that after walking for a little while, everyone started walking the same way. He wanted to show them how difficult it is to maintain your own beliefs when everyone else is doing something different then you. Then he told them all to walk their own way. He wanted them to know that they should do that in life. This was the same point Emerson was trying to make in his poem “Self Reliance.” He said that “imitation is suicide” He also said that “the great man is he who in the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” He was trying to say that if you try to be like everyone else you may as well be killing yourself. No matter what, you should always do what you believe, and maintain your individuality no matter what people say, or tell you to do. Not only did he teach them that they shouldn’t act like anyone else, he also taught them that they should live their own lives.
Keating taught them the great lesson of living your life for yourself, and not for anyone else. I recall the scene where Neill came in to ask Mr. Keating for advice about his father. He had a passion for acting that he father disapproved of. His father had his whole life planned out for him, and the way he wanted his life to be.
It didn’t matter to him what Neill wanted, he was forcing him to live his dream, instead of his own. Mr. Keating advised him to go to his father and tell him exactly what he had just said. He told him that his father may not still approve but at least he will be able to see where he is coming from. Keating told him to express himself to his father, and tell him what he wanted, and tell him that he wanted to live out his own dreams.
One of my favorite lines from the movie was where Keating said “Tis only in their dreams that men truly be free, ’twas always thus, and always thus will be.” Neill’s father may not understand why Neill wants to live his life that way, but Emerson said that some of the greatest people were misunderstood, like Pythagoras, Socrates, Jesus, Luther, Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. He also said “It is harder, because you will always find those who think they know your duty better then you know it.” That was exactly the case with Neill and his father. His father thought he was doing what was best for Neill when really he was only forcing him to live a life he didn’t want to live, which led to his suicide. Thus, you can see that at the same time as teaching them poetry, Keating taught the boys some of life’s most important lessons. Some of life’s most valuable lessons are taught in places where we would least expect it. Keating taught the boys so much more then poetry.
He wasn’t only a teacher, but he was a friend to them, and he touched each and every one of them. This may have only been a fictional movie, but the lessons that were taught will live on in our hearts forever.