Individualism In Neil Perry's Dead Poets Society

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The main theme of Dead Poets Society is individualism. “Individualism is, in its most extreme application, the ability to control one’s own life and, by extension, death” (Dewis 47-48). Neil Perry seeks individualism by becoming an actor, disobeying his father’s wishes to become a doctor. Individuals have a want and need to achieve excellence. In the opening scene, the four pillars of the school are shown on flags carried by students. The four pillars are excellence, tradition, discipline, and honor. Neil is shown carrying the flag with excellence written on it. His father held Neil to extremely high standards. His father expected him to become an excellent doctor and focus on school. Neil was unable to stand up to his father and explain his passion for acting. In order for Neil to take control of his life, he commits suicide. The suicide was the only way for Neil to seize the day and take the control away from Mr. Perry. “Neil was unable to discuss his opinions and options with his father, and Mr. Perry was unwilling to look at Neil’s outlook on life, as it did not appear as Neil had a concrete idea of what he wanted to do. This cyclical pattern led Neil to conclude that suicide was the only way to gain control of his life and stand up to his father” (“Analysis of Neil Perry"). Neil’s logic to his suicide is shown by the…show more content…
Neil was unable to seize control of his life and saw the only option as suicide. Neil was unable to meet the expectations his father set, causing an inferiority complex to form. The id, ego, and superego are all shown in Neil, but in the end, the impulsive actions of the id controlled his life. Neil’s suicide allowed him to gain control of his life for the first time. Neil saw suicide as the only way for him to, “Carpe diem” (Dead Poets Society). Individualism is an imperative quality, but potentially calamitous when one is desperate to become
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