Dead Poets Society

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Cathy Pham Mrs. Jaspard AP English Lang/Comp 29 December 2012 Philosophies of Transcendentalism In the movie Dead Poets Society, the philosophies of transcendentalism are explained in depth, though in a more interesting way. Near the beginning of the movie, where several orthodox methods of teaching are shown, tradition was expressed. The typical class introductions, the way the lessons are delivered, and the assigning of homework are all done in a similar fashion. That is, until the boys sat through a class taught by Mr. Keating, Welton’s new English teacher. His unorthodox methods not only taught the boys to think for themselves, but they also awoke the boys’ inner desires and dreams. This movie does an excellent job of portraying the school’s four pillars (tradition, honor, discipline, and excellence) and the four I’s (individualism, innocence, intuition, and imagination) through members of the Dead Poets Society, specifically Todd Anderson and Charlie “Nuwanda” Dalton. Todd Anderson showed the best understanding of the philosophies of transcendentalism, notably Ralph Waldo Emerson’s. Todd failed to follow Emerson’s philosophy of “Imitation is suicide” until the very last minute of the movie, when he daringly stood up on his desk and called out “Oh Captain, my Captain!” to Mr. Keating. He could not hold in his guilt anymore because he felt bad for conforming, or imitating, what the other members of the Dead Poets Society had done in Mr. Nolan’s office. Todd succeeded in following another one of Emerson’s philosophies, “To trust thyself”, when he successfully composed a poem [on the spot] in front of the class. “To trust thyself” means that one should always trust one’s self, even if one may be wrong. By following this transcendentalist idea, Todd gained more confidence in himself and the courage to speak his mind. He also showed intuition
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