Passion vs. Expectation | Dead Poets Society (1989)

The movie; “Dead Poets Society”, is a must watch classic. The story is about Mr. Keating, a literature teacher, who taught his students about how important it is to ‘seize the day’ and think for themselves. Although they’re in a conservative highschool that defy those kinds of mindset.

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Personally I discovered this movie several months ago. And I was immediately attracted to the fact that the story feels very relatable and honest in portraying the truth behind our education system. Even when I’m watching this years after its release.

Before I continue, I will warn you that there will be major spoilers of the movie. So unless you’re fine with it, I think it is better for you to watch it first.

The main plotline this movie follows is the problem that happened to Neil Perry. In the movie, he was the most passionate student when it comes to literature. He dreamt of being an actor, and being able to perform freely in front of people. Yet at the same time, Perry was conflicted. Because he knows well that his parents only want him to be a doctor.

“For the first time in my whole life, I know what I wanna do! And for the first time, I’m gonna do it! Whether my father wants me to or not! Carpe diem!”

– Neil Perry

In my opinion, this problem is one of the factors “Dead Poets Society” is relatable until now. I’m not saying that it happens to me, but a lot of people I know are going through the same confusion. Whether they will follow their passion but having to face the consequences of their parents being mad, or follow their parents expectations and sacrifice their passion.

Generally, if the problem is not solved yet, what happens next is that these teenagers are more scared to open up with their parents. They would feel powerless to own their life, and suffocated by the endless expectations.

  • How can school come into play in this situation?

I believe that school is supposed to be a second home for its students. When there’s something wrong, there should be someone at school who can be students’ support system.

In Neil Perry’s case, the role was filled by Mr. Keating. He was the only person Peery can trust with his problem. However with the rest of the teachers despising on Mr. Keating and his mindset, added with how strict and conservative the school is, it creates an unhealthy and unsupportive community for Neil Perry to be able to express himself.

Even so, it can be seen how encouraged Perry was to prove to his father about his love for acting and literature. Showing how a simple act of listening and understanding can be very meaningful for those who are used to being silenced.

Sadly, the end of the movie is not that happy. When Perry’s father found out that he was included in a play, his father got so mad until he was enrolled in a military school to ensure that he can only be a doctor. Perry, being so done with his situation, decided to give up and end his life.

The word ‘suicide’ may sound like a taboo to a lot of people. But there is no denying that it’s not impossible for teenagers who live in an unsupportive community to do that. It is proven by the fact that in 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death among adolescent and young adult. And the number has been increasing ever since.

In order to prevent that, I think it is crucial for parents to know that they should be willing to learn. About what their children want, about their children’s current condition, and about how it is really like to live with parents like them.

As the saying goes: “Children are the master of their own life.” Don’t ever disregard what someone says, even though they’re only a child or a teenager. Just because you’re their parents or someone older than them, it does not guarantee that your decision is always right. And always keep in mind that our voices matter, too.

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

– Mr. Keating

By Ayunda Damai

A high school student that loves her family, friends, books, and piano <3

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