Dead Poets Society, a movie set in Welton Academy, a rigorous and elite all-boys private school, brings to life the philosophy of transcendentalism through its characters. The philosophy, which believes a person needs to find their individual, unique self and not allow the conformist ways of society to hamper the ability to have self-reliance, is introduced by Mr. Keating, the new English teacher who, through his distinctive teaching methods, exemplifies the transcendentalist idea and breathes life into it. His personification of this philosophy is not only readily welcomed by the boys, but acted upon, consequently impacting his students in a profound manner.
Mr. Keating, the new English teacher at Welton Academy, is the epitome of transcendentalist values. He devoutly embraces the idea of nonconformity, a key aspect of transcendentalism. At the start of the first English class, he instructs his students to tear out the introductory portion of their textbook because he disagrees with the content. This captures the attention of his student immediately differentiating him from the other professors at Welton and their orthodox teaching styles. Emerson, a famous poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, said, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.... Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” Further emphasizing the importance of individuality, Mr. Keating takes his student out to the courtyard and asks them to walk in their own exclusive speed and style, independent of how everyone else is walking. When inquired by Mr. Nolan, the Headmaster at Welton, as to what exactly he was doing, Mr. Keating replies that he w...
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...ions for what he strongly believes in, however foolish it may be.
In conclusion, the movie, Dead Poets Society, encompasses and propagates the idea of transcendentalism. The characters’ fearless nonconformity, displayed throughout the movie, demonstrates the importance and necessity of self-discovery and individual growth in a society. Many of the transcendentalist concepts stressed by Emerson and Thoreau are integrated into the movie through its characters and plot. The students who keenly take the philosophy of transcendentalism to heart and are inspired the most by it are as follows: Todd Anderson, Knox Overstreet, Neil Perry, and Charlie Dalton. These characters wholeheartedly accept the philosophy of transcendentalism, assume individual authority for their choices and embark on a trip of self-discovery and growth that will have a lasting impact on their lives.
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