The theme of happiness in the Dead Poets Society. What did I learn?

Published on 20 January 2022 at 21:12

Not so long ago, I watched the Dead Poets Society... and if you haven't watched it, be warned this will include a lot of spoilers. And for a bit of context, it is about an English teacher (Robin Williams) who works in a very rigid all-boys boarding school, and he pushes these boys to be free thinkers and to think outside of the box to pursue their life choices and ultimately things that make them happy. This is hard for the boys as they have the daunting pressure from their parents to go down the conventional, traditional routes in life.


Now, I can understand the parents' point of view. They only want what is best for their child, a life that guarantees success and a bright future. So as parents you put them in the best schools, train them hard and well, so at the end, when it is all said and done, they can look back at their life and be grateful that they had overbearing parents. Yes, this may be the case for some children of pushy parents but not necessarily all.


Moreover, one of the main characters, Neil Perry's parents, are rigorous and wouldn't let him participate in any extracurricular in the arts as his parents wanted him to stay focused. After the Enlightenment of the English teacher John Keating. (O captain, my captain... if you know, you know) He participates in a secret poem club founded by some boys in the English class called Dead Poets Society. He also participates in the school play as it is his dream to act. To cut a long story short, Neil's father finds out, gets very angry at him, threatens military school, and then sadly, Neil commits suicide; from my understanding, Neil chosed death over living a life that would make him unhappy. Our freedom of choice gives life purpose and meaning, to live life the way we choose it.

What did I learn from this?


I learned that, number 1, support from the people we love the dearest is important. To know that whatever I venture on and do in life, whether it's right or wrong, whether people agree or disagree, somebody is in your corner who listens, cares for my mental and physical wellbeing, and is open-minded towards the things I want to do, will carry me far in life.


Number 2, I learned happiness is only the beginning of knowing if something is the right decision. I know happiness is a temporary feeling, and I cannot always rely on my emotions, but for the most part, for most people, it is how we make decisions in life. But happiness does not always result in a life fulfilled. I have two more questions, not only will it make me happy, but is it right for me? And do I have peace about this? In Neil's case pursuing the things, he wanted to do made him happy. He found that it was the right thing for him to do, for his life fulfilment and from the film, it was the most time he ever felt at peace amidst the chaos. So it really comes down to I'll never know unless I try, and is it worth the risk?

Lastly, number 3. Things take time to come to fruition. Joy, the long-term version of happiness, comes from time spent and time learned. I cannot always rely on myself alone to know what will bring me true joy. I haven't lived that long and neither have I experienced everything. It's okay to include others in my decisions, those I know who have the best intentions for me. To learn from their wisdom in their life and cater it to my own and definitely take time to weigh out the options.

Happiness is a worthy pursuit, but it won't carry me to the finish line, but it will allow me to start the race.


If you have watched Dead Poet Society,  comment what you learned from that movie?




Anu Aborisade

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