Dead Poets Society Analysis

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The boys form the DPS for various reasons. First is the attraction to the activities. Keating romantically describes the DPS as a rebellious and mysterious gathering for reading poetry, wooing women, and creating gods. Neil, a student suppressed and controlled by his father, finds the risk of breaking rules attractive, for he sees it as a way to establish his own identity and regain control over his life. Charlie joins for a similar sense of adventure. The other students are not so eager to engage in risky activities and are reluctant to join. Charlie and Neil persuade, pressure, and negotiate to get these students to take part in the DPS.

Norms are established at the first meeting (some are adopted from Keating's suggestions). They include the time (after lights-out at Welton) and location (a local cave) of the meetings, as well as the opening ritual of reading a Thoreau poem. Rebellious behavior (e.g., smoking, drinking) is encouraged and a ritual dance is developed. It is agreed that Todd will be the club's secretary because he does not like to read aloud.

Storming occurs when Charlie announces that he wrote a letter to the school newspaper requesting that girls be admitted to Welton--and signed it from the DPS. This causes dissension because he did not ask for the others' opinions on the matter and because it calls attention to the secret club. Charlie shows loyalty to his friends and assumes responsibility for his actions by taking the punishment for the letter. Similar acts of loyalty and support regarding Neil's acting, Knox's pursuit of a girlfriend, and Todd's assertiveness are the essential ingredients of the group's performing stage.

Neil's suicide puts the club to the test as the administration coerces members to blow the whistle on each other and on Mr. Keating. This leads to more storming within the DPS and causes marginal members such as Cameron (Kussman) to abandon their loyalty. Although all the members except Charlie sign the confession...
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