Dead Poets Society
1. Describe Todd Anderson’s development – what is he like in the beginning and how does he change? How important is Todd as a character in the story? (75+ words)
At first, Todd is quit and has not much to say. He is shy and scared of participating in class and reading out loud. He is also intimidated and terrified that what he might say is pointless and unintelligent. This troubles him, since he is the youngest of his family and told that he has “big shoes to fill”, being the younger brother of a former successful student at Welton. Todd’s worst fear is that his life has no meaning, and he constantly feels worthless and embarrassed. For instance, in chapter 8, after being told to write a poem, Todd tells Mr. Keating that he did not complete the assignment, when he actually had spent a long time writing his poem only to have thrown it away before class, because he believed that it was not good enough. This is a prime example of Todd’s struggle and how his insecurity takes over him. However, Mr. Keating ignores his fear and makes him yawp, and afterward he makes him say everything that comes to his mind. This is how Todd started to grow. I think that Todd is a very important character, as he is the only student who discovers Mr. Keating’s message of passion being the reason to stay alive, by talking about “the sweaty-toothed madman”. Todd comes out of his shell and learns to be passionate and to control it. Furthermore, he is also the one that goes through the biggest change, in his character. By the end of the story, Todd has found the confidence by proving to himself and others that he can stand up and express himself when it really matters. Nevertheless, Todd is also the first to stand on the desk in respect for Mr. Keating and to speak out in protest.
2. Discuss who is responsible for Neil’s suicide? Mr Keating? Neil’s father? Neil himself? (75+ words)
I think that both Neil’s father (Mr. Perry) and Neil himself are responsible for his suicide. Neil’s life was like an act, and he could not deal with the thought of giving up acting because it would mean, that he had to end the roles that he lived every day and thereby face his father. Since Neil’s father was ruling over him, he felt that he could not stand up for himself and be honest about his passions. He could not take his own decisions and he found it difficult to live under the pressure and according to his father’s wishes. As a result of the control that Neil’s father had over his life, he saw death as the only way out. Therefore, Neil’s father is responsible for his son’s suicide. On the other hand, Neil’s father only wanted the best for his son, which was the reason for his high expectations and Neil never really expressed himself to his father. Even when they at the very end, confronted each other, Neil still did not face his father, and when he was asked what he wanted, he did not answer him. This means that his father did try, and even though he might not have accepted what Neil had to say, he would still have it in mind. So Neil himself is also responsible for his suicide.
3. How does Mr Keating influence the boys? Give several examples! (75+ words)
The first thing Mr. Keating does, is to ask his students to rip out the introduction to their poetry book, which includes a section on how to rate a poem. He teaches them that it is incorrect, as one should not be told what to think and believe. It is up to them as readers to decide what they think of the poem and how to rate it. Another thing that Mr. Keating teaches the boys is, to be “freethinkers”. He changes the usual behaviour at Welton Academy, and influences them to rethink what they want and who they want to be. The boys act upon this by reopening the “Dead Poets Society”, which is a group of free thinkers who want to break out of the pillars of the Welton Academy. Also, Mr. Keating encourages the students to take...