Examples Of Transcendentalism In Dead Poets Society

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In “The Dead Poets Society,” Mr. Keating, an unconventional teacher, comes to an oppressive boys boarding school and exposes the students to an idealized version of transcendentalism, affecting his students both negatively and positively. His classes and interactions with his students show that Mr. Keating has the qualities of a good teacher: he allows his students freedom of thought, he teaches in fun and engaging ways, and he develops personal relationships with them. However, as the movie progresses, his flawed teaching style becomes increasingly evident in his presentation of the transcendentalist philosophy to his students. Transcendentalism can be summarized by “carpe diem” or “seize the day,” where you live life passionately …show more content…

Keating has many good qualities as a teacher, there is no doubt that his teaching style is still flawed. Firstly, he presents transcendentalism, a very different philosophy on life, to his students in a way that hinders them from implementing this principle into their lives in the best way possible. Mr. Keating fails to inform the students of the dangers of this philosophy and of its limits. Although Mr. Keating’s idealized preaching of transcendentalism helps Todd grow as an individual by becoming more confident and courageous, this also results in many of his other students taking the philosophy too far and eventually, leading to their downfall. One such student is Charlie, who is very bold and confident and thinks for himself; as a result of his natural personality, he was always living the philosophy of “carpe diem” to a certain extent. Because Charlie’s personality is already fixated on this philosophy, Mr. Keating’s idealized presentation of transcendentalism was a recipe for Charlie’s implementation of this ideology to get out of hand. In his case, it was important for Mr. Keating to emphasize the dangers of following this philosophy radically and to teach Charlie how to control himself and not do stupid things, such as the “phone call from God” antic. Similarly, it was important for Mr. Keating to tailor his preaching of the philosophy to Neil as well. Neil was living in one extreme of the spectrum: he was forced to follow orders from an incredibly dictatorial father while living in an oppressive boarding school. Mr. Keating’s theory of seizing the day and thinking for oneself is an idea on the whole other side of the spectrum. The problem is, when an individual is living in one extreme, they shouldn’t be exposed to an idealized version of a completely different way of life because they are much more prone to fixate on radicalism and could potentially take it too far. This is what happens to Neil when he finds his passion in acting, but his

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