Dead Poets Society: An outlook on Arts and Humanities

Arts and Humanities have always been looked down by the society as something unimportant or not authentic enough to pursue in life. A humanities student is accustomed to hearing a lot of concerns about his/ her future. Sure, humanities and arts do not have a specific professional field like Medicine or Law, but this is what gives an arts student the advantage of taking his own path. Many may not be able to understand this concept but the movie ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ presents  this concept to its viewers from the perspective of a teacher and a group of students.

To be precise, Dead Poets Society represents the voice of Arts and Humanities as it unleashes you to the world of poetry and art in the most aesthetically pleasing way.

A Dead Poets Society

Starring Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society is the story of a young English teacher, Mr. Keating who takes upon himself the responsibility to teach his students to live their life with dreams and passion.

His charming way of reading poetry with so much emotions captivates his students. He reads  with so much passion and enthusiasm that you are immersed into the movie from the very beginning.

He emphasizes upon loving poetry, to find beauty in words and the true meaning behind those words. In short, he brings life to the words that are dead to his students. Standing on tables, covering eyes to let imagination run wild, he releases the suppressed passion of the students that is buried by the society and their parents. 

Furthermore, he wants them to question their own academic structures that restricts them. Academic structures are quite limiting for people who are in search of knowledge because it hides the actual political and social issues. To find the real truth, one must challenge their own doctrines and dogmas.  Apart from the obvious message, Mr. Keating puts emphasis on exploring the magical world of wonder and imagination.  “Carpe Diem” ,he says. “Seize the day!”

The prominence of finding your own passions in life, the film then focuses on a group of students who are on their way to find themselves. You feel the excitement and burning passion in them as they meet in the forest every night, escaping from their dorms after lights out, creating poetry, reading poetry, playing instruments, and sharing their dreams. It is like the movement towards freedom against the shackles of society, a silent revolution. Overall, it highlights the importance of free thinking in a narrow narrative built world.

“Carpe Diem”

What makes the movie truly fascinating is its relevance to the modern age. Our society is a developing one that has yet to decide its own ideology. The emphasis by parents to study medicine, law, engineering has made thousands of students deprived of finding their own selves first.

The movie not only highlights the importance of humanities, but it also emphasizes that to be passionate about anything that you want, be it science or arts. Carpe Diem means to think more about the present than of the future, because your present decides what your future holds.

The students in the movie represent the youth of the society that are on their way to break the shackles of traditional academics, to widen their insights about the world that they have been restricted to by their parents. “Why do I stand up here? Anybody? I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.” (Mr. Keating).

Moreover, the movie is set in a traditional building with teachers that apply traditional practices on their students. Them escaping from the building and meeting in the forest highlights the true meaning behind the movie.

Furthermore, the movie teaches us that no matter how many restrictions a society puts on youth, they should be passionate enough to see which of these restrictions are unnecessary. This is important if they wish to know the society around them and more importantly to know themselves. After all, that is the essence of life.

“There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.”

To be Extraordinary

The main theme of this movie is that teachers and students are the pillars of the society and the future of the society respectively. To become a successful society, it is the responsibility of the teachers and students to “dare to be extraordinary”.

He says “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!”

Power of Words

By reading poetry, Mr. Keating shows the significance of words in life. The most recited poem in the movie is “O Captain, My Captain!” by Walt Whitman. The poem was written as a mourning for the death of Abraham Lincoln after the victory of American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln used his words as his weapon to raise the morale of the people. In other words, Mr. Keating is trying to tell the students that the words have power to change the world.

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

This goes back to the main focus of this blog, which is the significance of humanities and arts to life.  The movie teaches us that studying humanities and arts is important as it comprises of millions of stories, filled with emotions and feelings.

To become extraordinary, one must discover their own self, because then you know what you want in life. Happiness only comes from within it is said, and knowing yourself should be the utmost priority in life. The knowledge acquired by Arts and Humanities is what gets you started on that path.

About the Author

Nimra Javed

A Literature student who love to read and write about my experiences while reading poetry or prose. My goal is to introduce you the fascinating world of literature by introducing you to a new and undiscovered masterpiece writings. I’m known for being a good writer who puts much effort on emotions and feelings. Theatre is my greatest interest and I plan to write my own play someday!

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