POST: 'Dead Poet's Society' - I wanted to save him

What's it about?

An unconventional teacher is brought to a traditional all-boys school, where he inspires his students to be themselves and seize the day. 

What'd I experience?

This show is based off the film, which is why I decided to see it. I saw it in middle school, and I was inspired. I was too young to fully understand, which is probably why it shocked me how moved I was by it all.

Mr. Keating is your unconventional teacher that helps you explore and be who you truly are. He doesn’t do his job of just teaching you the academics, he goes even further caring about his students and bringing them to their full potential. He does this conformity exercise, where he gets the boys to walk around the room, noting how each of them follow the same practical path, never straying from the norm. He teaches the boys to march to their own drum, and the boys run, jump, dance, and even scream. I started to see who they truly were underneath the chains of conformity, and it was fascinating and inspiring. In that moment, they were free. It reminded me a lot of how I grew up. At a young age, I understood that I was different, that I’d never fit in, no matter how much I tried to conform to the system. For a while, it bothered me, but I slowly came to accepting it, deciding that conformity was a societal consensus I wasn’t a part of and no longer wanted to be a part of. I wanted to be free, like the students. I wanted to jump and dance and scream at the top of my lungs without a care in the world. I can’t say that I’m there yet, but seeing them, I can’t give up on that dream. I have to keep fighting the systems that forced me into falling in line instead of fostering an environment that allowed me to be myself.

Now, abuse is something that strikes a nerve with me. I don’t like it, and I don’t tolerate it. AT. ALL. No one should ever lay a hand on someone else, especially when it comes to causing them harm. Charles takes the motto of seizing the day a bit too far, and gets reprimanded for his defiant nature. While the show doesn’t display the abuse (thank god), they replace it with the sound of his screams and the belt echoing in the background. I honestly couldn’t keep my eyes open. It made my skin crawl, and still does till this very moment. I couldn’t look until it was over. It shook me to my core. I just wanted it to end. It’s been a form of punishment I’ve experienced, and it brings up memories I’d much rather forget

But it wasn’t the abuse that got me. It was the parental pressure coupled with suicide that left me an emotional mess. Neil was studying at the academy to eventually go to an Ivy League and become a doctor, the path set by his father. Whenever Neil tried to do something for himself, he was forced out of it, being told that the path was much more important than “wasting his time on nonsense.” His father continually used parental pressures like disappointing his parents to get Neil to follow his path. He “had all the opportunities they [being his parents] never had and he wasn’t going to just throw them away.” That stung. I know those words all too well, but it’s not the life we want to lead. Last I checked, we only get one life and I choose to live it as I please, even if it is to the dismay of my family because at the end of the day, I have to live it not them. That doesn’t mean resistance is easy. Like Neil, I chose to sacrifice my happiness to follow their path for me. I was powerless, so I had to obey the systems in play. But then we reach a point. A point where our passions are awakened, and resistance becomes necessary. Without the resistance, the feeling of powerlessness grows stronger, and everything seems futile. Neil could no longer resist, and feeling powerless, with no way out, he takes his own life. At this point, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I don’t recall that scene, and I definitely wasn’t ready for it. That coupled with Todd’s cries of agony left me heartbroken in my seat because it reminded me of me. How I felt that way and how I thought like Neil did. That THAT was my only option. The only power I had that I could play, and I wanted to save him. I wanted him to do as he pleased and for him to be happy. Being born into a life that’s forced onto you. One you never signed up for. One that isn’t your own. I couldn’t stand for it. It got to a point where I had to keep reminding myself that it was just a show. That it wasn’t real. But it felt real to me.

Mr.Keating ends up getting blamed for Neil’s death, which was clearly untrue. I can’t even begin to hold back my hatred and anger for Neil’s father. The boys go back to their regular classes, saying a last farewell to their teacher. Oh Captain My Captain. A phrase I can never forget. I was left wondering what we can do then. With all that I’ve learned about seizing the day and not conforming, how can I accept that the boys return to their initial state? What am I supposed to take away from this? That in the end, practicality and systems will force our hand into doing and being as they want and not as we please? Or do we keep fighting the systems that be and stay true to ourselves? Or do we pick and choose our battles? Whatever the answer may be, I choose to fight for the brighter future. One where we can be ourselves without hesitation and we reach our full potential because if not, what’s the point of it all?

You must strive to find your own voice because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are going to find it at all. – John Keating 


Want to see it?

$20 Student Rush

Classic Stage
thru Dec. 18


What'd you experience?

Let us know in the comments below...