A Reflection on the Movie "Dead Poet's Society"

Essay by mgonzal July 2004

download word file, 7 pages 5.0

Downloaded 73 times

History constantly witnesses the never-ending struggle between tradition and innovation. As an old adage goes, "the only constant thing in this world is change" and it is indeed true. The society that we have today is a by-product of continuous changes --- changes that generations before us believed to be for the better. Thus, history serves as a "storehouse" of information that can help us understand change and how the society we live in came to be.

The definition of History as a "natural tension between tradition and innovation" is best represented in the movie Dead Poet's Society. Set in 1959, the movie is the story of students at the respected "Welton Academy", an all-boys preparatory school in Vermont. Such schools were (and often still are) very conservative institutions that serve as high schools for parents who insist on sending their children to the best universities.

The story is an all-common scene in our history: a traditional way of living and doing things is initially present.

Almost everyone is conforming to that tradition since it is the "best" way people know on how to do things. Not everybody may be happy but the familiarity that the tradition brings provides comfort and security. Then come along a different (either good or bad) idea to change how things are originally done. The traditionalists will resist and even condone the change while the proponents of innovation will try to prove that the change is for the better. The changes may persist in a particular society, and as the time goes on, these changes will be embedded on the culture until it becomes the new tradition, which new changes will, again, try to contest. And again, the whole cycle begins.

In the movie, the tradition is represented by the educational system where students...