How Is Challenge Represented in the Film Dead Poets’ Society?

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Dead Poets’ Society directed by Peter Weir is set in the 1950’s at the conservative all-boys preparatory school, Welton Academy where tradition, discipline, honour and excellence are the four principles. Challenge is represented throughout the whole film. Dead Poets’ society tells the story of an English teacher John Keating who challenges and inspires his students including Todd Anderson and Neil Perry to think for themselves, to make their lives ‘extraordinary’ and “[to] be an individual instead of a follower” through his non- traditional, revolutionary teaching methods.

Welton Academy has a new English and poetry teacher, Mr Keating who is unlike any other teacher that has ever taught at the school. Mr Keating challenges the convention of the school by teaching in a different way; he also challenges his students to make their lives their own and to look at the world in a different perspective. “I stand on my desk to remind myself that just when we know something we must look always at it in a different way” Mr Keating tells the boys, this is a lesson in free thinking and non-conformity. He is challenging the boys to think that there is more than one view to everything, and he is trying to get them to be more unconventional. In Mr. Keating first lesson which is totally unorthodox by Welton standards he tells the students “You can [either] call me Mr. Keating or if you’re feeling slightly more daring O Captain My Captain” a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Keating takes the students out of the classroom to focus on the idea of ‘carpe diem’ which in lain means ‘seize the day’ by looking at the pictures of former Welton students in a trophy case. “If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you, listen, hear it? - - Carpe, - - hear it? Carpe diem” Mr. Keating is challenging the boys to seize the day; he is also challenging them to make their lives ‘extraordinary’.

Todd Anderson is a quiet, timid, and shy...
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