Bill Beattie once said, “The aim of education should be to teach us how to think rather than what to think – rather to improve our minds, so as to….
Dead Poets Society and Individualism
Preston Herring English 200 February 6, 2013 Dead Poet’s Society and Individualism In the movie, Dead Poet’s Society, it conveys the thought of individualism and how it can impact your life as a whole in detail. The many conflicts that the characters face throughout the movie demonstrate how the thought of thinking for one’s self is shameful and how being different and sticking out from the crowd is looked down upon. Neil Parry’s suicide for instance illustrates the consequences that can happen when someone’s individual thoughts and feelings are not listened to and authority’s tradition is allowed to prevail against individualism.
On the other hand the triumph of the individual thoughts and beliefs may sometimes have a positive outcome like in the case of Knox Overstreet. When Knox becomes obsessed with Chris, without even meeting her, he ends up risking his life to win her heart. In both cases, characters go with their individual thoughts and beliefs to make their choices and stop obeying traditional authority figures. The whole group of friends of Neil Parry and Todd Anderson embark on a trip of finding themselves and individual growth that will have a lasting impact on their futures.
Not everybody can have the inner strength to stand up for their individual thoughts. An example is Neil Parry’s unfortunate suicide. When Neil decides to pursue a career in acting rather than in medicine his father, Mr. Parry, is furious. Unemotional by Neil’s extraordinary performance in the play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mr. Parry continues to insist on controlling Neil’s life and dictating his every move. But Mr. Parry’s efforts were in vain. Neil had already experienced freedom once before, a privilege not easily obtained.
With this taste of freedom he realizes that he can think for himself and do great things on his own. Neil eventually stands up to his father, but can’t express his opinions and emotions to the increasingly angered old school man that his father is. Rather than continuing to live a life in which he can’t pursue his own true dreams, he decides that the only way to gain control of his situation is by killing himself. Though he lost everything in the process, suicide was the only way for Neil to stand up to his father and live life to the fullest or s Mr. Keating would say “Carpe Diem”. Through the action of suicide, Neil is taking control of his life decisions and must accept the consequences. Neil’s decision to take his life was a necessary step to find himself, grow as an individual, and realize that he can make his own decisions. On the other side of the story is Knox Overstreet, one who is not afraid to express his own emotions and romances. Knox recognizes the vital importance of individualism when he becomes in love with Chris, a girl that he has never met before and doesn’t even know.
Knox, like Neil, recognizes the importance of individual emotion and opinions in guiding him through life and helping him make decisions. Knox decides to risk everything by standing up to her boyfriend Chet in a romantic attempt to win Chris’s heart. His many attempts prove to be effective in the end. Chris does go to A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Knox and even holds his hand. In a way Knox has succeeded, he has won the battle, and he has prevailed over the authority figure Chet.
Throughout the movie, there are several examples where characters act with individuality, purposely disobeying traditional authority in order to follow their own dreams. In some cases, these conflicts had positive outcomes like in Knox’s case. In other situations such outbreak of individualism had deadly consequences like Neil. In either case the process of self-discovery and free thinking was bound to happen and after being awarded freedom for the very first time, both Neil and Knox weren’t going to give up this sense of individuality and free thinking up without a fight.
The only place where someone can find out his or her true identity, their true character, is within himself or herself. Neil and Knox’s fearless fight with basic tradition beliefs will forever demonstrate the importance and necessity of finding yourself and individually growing to become a new person that you chose to be and to be a role model and figure to new generations of teenagers to come. Works Cited FitzPatrick, Bill. Action Principles. ” Success. org. American Success Institute. 12 Dec 2006 <http://www. success. org/>. Long, Tony. “You Say You Want a Revolution? ” [Podcast entry] The Luddite. 06 July 2006. Wired. com. 12 Dec 2006 <http://www. wired. com/news/culture/0,71096-0. html>. Waldo, Ralph Waldo. “Philosophy of Teaching. ” UW. 12 Dec 2006 <http://depts. washington. edu/ctltstaf/example_portfolios/williams/pages/88252. html>.