Dead Poet Society

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The concept of challenging authority is one that is popularly portrayed in contemporary literature. Challenging authority defines a person’s defiance against the set rules and dictations of a certain power. Challenging authority can affect an individual adversely by degenerating them, or positively by assisting them in finding their place in the world. Challenging authority itself is filled with decision making and significant changes.

The concept of challenging authority is explored in the two texts: Dead Poets Society (1898) a film directed by Peter Weir and Raw (1998), a novel written by Scott Monk. Both texts involve an individual or group who challenge the authority of a certain power. The composers of these texts utilise film and literary techniques to broaden the audience’s understanding of challenging authority.

Challenging authority teaches important lessons. Following an individual’s challenge to authority, he/she may learn from their mistakes. This theme is reflected through the final chapter of the novel Raw, when Brett Dalton walks away from the fight with Caitlyn’s father. This indicates that Dalton, by his initial challenge of authority, has assimilated that violence is not the answer: “He’d lost one fight but won another.” Monk’s use of third-person omniscient develops the reader’s understanding of how challenging authority can educate an individual’s pivotal lessons by allowing them to see how others feels. In the epilogue of the novel, Dalton admits that to many past wrongs, proving that challenging authority does indeed educate individuals.

Challenging authority often opens the possibility of the degeneration of the individual/group. An individual found contravening the rules of a higher power is punished, in turn physically and/or mentally harming the individual. In Dead Poets Society, this is evident in the scene of Neil’s death. Neil challenged the authority of his father by pursuing his dream of acting, and because of this, had his...
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