Dead Poets' Society Notes (a passage from the movie and study questions)

Essay by chrissaHigh School, 11th grade April 2004

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A. Conformity is one of the light motives in our film. The word itself may aquire both positive and negative connotations. Its dictionary definition is: "doing as you're asked to do, an action that corresponds to what is expected or desired or considered desireable." But its semantic meaning, according to the film's context, raises the question whether we should always behave and do things according to what is expected of us, tread in the same road take by so many others, or choose the more difficult one, the one unexpected, the individual and original path.

B. We all have to regard tradition, social and cultural norms, norms of behavior, and adopt attitudes because we are all members of a certain society, which demands our "obedience" in order to protect our basic rights.

C. However, we should never give in to norms or codes of behavior without questioning them, without stopping to think about their cause and goal.

D. Western society admires individuality, originality and inspiration; but at the same time it is characterized by conformity, obedience to the general rule and the general taste. There are infinite examples for that phenomenon: teenages wearing the same fashionable clothes, grown-ups choosing their careers according to their prestigious position, people spending their leisure hours doing the same spoting and recreational activities as the last fashing dictates, etc. What's lost by this social pressure?

E. We can certainly point out that our society is oriented towards achievement, which is not a negative goal at all, but at what price? Does "going along with the herd" mean becoming anonymous, being one of a lot? What about our own way of looking at things, our individual point of view, when we don't see eye to eye with the rest? When we do give in to public...