Throughout the unravelling of Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society, the audience are often faced with the reality that attendance at Welton College would be undesirable. The physical and mental stresses endured by students due to the harshness and unforgiving nature of the school is underlining in many instances. Strict and unyielding authoritarian figures compel pupils to live in a damaging and caustic world, and to be placed under immense levels of anxiety and tension. The cruel world in which our impressionable young characters are forced to live in results directly in the tragic death of Neil Perry.
During the screenplay, Welton is repeatedly shown to be a school where pupils are entrapped. Religious followers of the “Empty Vessel Theory”, Welton’s authority confine students to the four walls of their school building, and to the four wall of their mind. This theory reinforces the feeling of imprisonment Neil felt before his suicide. The boys are educated by books, and rely heavily on note-taking and on the blackboard. Classrooms, illuminated by single bulbs and devoid of natural light, give definite impressions as to the students’ state of mind. The lack of luminosity illustrates the deficiency in vigour, vitality and vividness of the boys, and similarly defines the students’ attitude to school life in general – gloomy, mournful and depressed. Similarly, the boys’ faces are usually shrouded in darkness, emphasising the deficiency in cheerfulness, and in the ending of their free spirit and will. Imprisoned physically, mentally and spiritually, the boys are unable to wander on the path to self-discovery, and instead are forced to ...
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...boys are forever compelled to do as adults say. The lack of trust and love for the boys is telling in many scenes and the constant disregard for their opinions and views brings about the untimely death of a youngster driven to the edge.
Throughout the screenplay, Weir proves that it is the horrendous surroundings of the boys which cause the death of Neil Perry. Young students, especially in their adolescent years, need to be supported and encouraged and to feel value in society. Welton’s authority confirm on many an occasion their inability to cater to such demands. They succeed only in quashing mental, physical and spiritual sustenance of their students. Parents, who sent their children to such an austere academy, should have thought twice. The scars inflicted at Welton last a lifetime – and drastically reduce the length of Neil Perry’s young life.
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