Dead Poets' Society Scene Analysis

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Specific Scene Questions

1) The purpose of the inaugural ceremony is to present the school and the new staff to the parents, as well as set the tone for the students at the school. They put great emphasis on the four pillars (tradition, honor, discipline, excellence) and the way the ceremony is conducted reflects the true meaning of the words and depicts the goals and objectives of the four pillars. At the same time they want to impose the image of a school that follows the fundamental rules and morals of that specific time period in upper class America.

The introduction of the new teacher has the purpose to inform the parents and students of the change that has been made in the staff, as an introduction first. Also, it gives an opportunity to praise the teacher in front of everybody for his previous experience at a highly regarded school in London and at the same time indicate the work done by administration to enhance the staff with high caliber teachers that will uphold the four pillars. Furthermore, it serves to prepare (perhaps even warn) the students about a new challenge that arises through the cooperation of students with the new teacher

2) The teacher adopts a totally different style of teaching that what the students are expecting. He takes them by surprise and immediately catches their attention. He uses it an ice breaker and also uses humor and sex related humor to ease the tension and get through to them. He points out that he is one of them (a former student) so as to equate himself with them and close the gap that usually exists in such situations. He uses the glorious past of the school to motivate them; he compares them with that great past and at the same time challenges them to become part of the great history of the school. More importantly, he gives them a clear directive vision, by using a Latin slogan (seize the day) that seems to work immediately.

The act to rip the pages off is geared towards his attempt to encourage them to become free thinkers. He explains how life and poetry are related and how through poetry they can take a stand on life itself. Furthermore, the specific pages tell people how to think and how to actually understand poetry. The teacher wants to veer away from some logic and it’s part of the bigger plan to encourage them to think freely and think for themselves.

3) The teacher takes the students out in the yard and asks them to parade around. He then compares the students’ strides to poetry and explains how each student has his own stride, the same way as each person has his own stand on life and his own personal beliefs. The same way that people are confident to maintain their own personal stride when parading, is the way that the teacher encourages students to stand up to their own beliefs, especially when facing others. He wants to bestow trust of the students in their beliefs and confidence to stand up and not only explain but also support their beliefs and fight for them.

4) The punishment by the school headmaster shows that the leadership style of Mr. Nolan is very rigid, autocratic and transactional. However, judging from the era at which this style was imposed it can be easily understood that it was justified. The four pillars of the school did not allow for such outbreaks in behavior and the headmaster is using the student to make an example out of him for the entire school. The harsh behavior serves to send a message to everybody to abstain from similar behavior in the future. The beating of the student is a misuse of authority, if put in the context of today’s society. However, for that day and age it was justified and expected for the headmaster to have the option of reprimanding by the use of force.

5) Neil feels trapped because he has a special liking for acting and he feels that he has found something special that he can do for the rest of his life. He enjoys acting and also feels...
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