Neil Perry - Dead Poets' Society

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Neil's Searching:
Neil seems thrilled at the idea that he may be able to contribute a verse. He prompts Cameron to tear out J. Evans Pritchard's introduction to poetry. He is the one to call Keating "Captain," and is the first to ask what the Dead Poets Society was. He is also the one to organize the first meeting. Neil also tells Todd that he must participate in the club. Each are Neil's attempts to lead - to gain control over his own life. In the end, Neil felt he couldn't live according to his father's wishes, and the only way out was to kill himself. He felt that his only option in order to gain some control of his life was to take his own life. It was just as Puck said in his soliloquy, Neil was his father's dream. When his father woke up, his dream was gone. As the role of Puck, Neil is able to express what he could not when he wasn't acting. The Puck epilogue is said directly to his father, in hopes that his father will forgive him. He cannot say anything later when his father tells him what he expects Neil to do because at that moment he is no longer acting. Neil so desperately wants to have a verse to contribute, but he lacks the words, and can only say them while acting. Neil, His Father, and the Suicide

Neil's relationship with his father is a case of misunderstanding and lack of communication. Mr. Perry wanted what was best for his son, which led to extremely high expectations. Neil wanted to find out who he was and what he wanted to do. Neil was unable to discuss his opinions and options with his father, and Mr. Perry was unwilling to look at Neil's outlook on life, as it did not appear as Neil had a concrete idea of what he wanted to do. This cyclical pattern led Neil to conclude that suicide was the only way to gain control of his life and stand up to his father. Neil only considered suicide after the major confrontation with him over the play. In the vast majority of suicide cases, suicide is an act that is contemplated for quite some time. Usually there are warning signs that accompany those thoughts. In this case, however, there is no evidence that Neil thought about suicide up until that night. It appears to be a spontaneous decision made on the basis of the hopelessness he felt that night. Maybe it was an act to break free from his father's control, but in trying to gain that control over his life, he sacrificed everything to escape. Mr. Perry was at traditionalist, which unfortunately meant he had a difficult time expressing affectionate emotions. He also had a large number of expectations because like any parent, he ultimately wanted the best for his son, a 16-17 year old with a bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately, Neil never really saw or understood that his father only wanted what was best for Neil. He only saw the tyrant-like authority figure who constantly demanded that Neil achieve greatness in academia and who obeyed him unquestioningly.

Neil, however, did question that role - to himself, to others, even to Keating. Unfortunately, he never truly was able to convey that to his father. The only time he was able to stand up to his father was in the role of Puck during the play, when he asked for forgiveness with his last soliloquy, an act which deliberately disobeyed and thus enraged his father. He had many opportunities to do so before then, but he never seized the opportunity to reestablish a connection. The father and son were like strangers, each with a specific perception of the other, but neither really knew who the other was. This perpetuated the cycle of misunderstandings between the two and eventually played a major role in Neil's suicide.

In Mr. Perry's perspective, Neil was a model child who was focused on getting into a good college. He then learns from another parent that Neil was going to be in the play. This was the first he had heard of this, as Neil had lied to everyone about his father's approval. Mr. Perry then told Neil that couldn't be involved, an order Neil...
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