Wednesday, November 15, 2006



Dead Poets Society was produced in 1989. Directed by Peter Weir, the film won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Dead Poets Society is a story about a group of schoolboys who become influenced by their charismatic teacher. The boys attend a conservative, prep school rooted in old-fashioned British principles. The school promotes “Tradition, Discipline, Honor, and Excellence” as its all-abiding virtues.

Robin Williams plays John Keating, a new English teacher at Welton Academy. During the film he inspires his students to follow their dreams. One of my favorite moments of the film is when Keating teaches his students that the true value of poetry is love and that love exists for a man to capture a woman’s heart. Although Keating teaches famous poets such as Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, he also provokes original thought amongst his students. In one scene, Keating wants his students to experience a new perspective and pursue an innovative lease on life. Resultantly, he tells them to stand on top of their desks and admire their new surroundings.

The film is titled for the student’s secret group that meets at night. Conducting meetings in an ancient Indian cave close to campus, the boys read stories and recite poetry. Consequently, their meetings stimulate an inspirational attachment and the students become emotionally moved by literature’s expressive content. The film emphasizes an unrestrained spirit that presents itself through the young men and main character John Keating. I enjoy the film because it documents a reciprocal companionship between the young students and their mentor. Lifelong bond’s developed between friends is a theme not often reserved for cinema. Dead Poet’s Society creates an energetic sense of camaraderie between the students that effects their daily actions.

The most prominent aspect of the film is how a teacher can influence a student’s life. Mr. Keating is the primary influence upon the young boys and his radical lessons affect them. I like how Mr. Keating is constantly in a struggle against the conservative educational board that has not accepted his unique style of teaching. The viewer fights for his cause and becomes engaged in the film. Quality teaching and its inspirational attributes are vital to any student’s academic and social life. Some teachers just go through the motions, while the others inspire even the most unmotivated student to engage in the learning process. Dead Poet’s Society provides a template for educators, illuminating their capacity to influence a generation of students.


Walt Whitman Literature Archive:

Henry David Thoreau Society:

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