A new academic year starts, and school bells are ringing once more. Students of Welton Academy, a prestigious all-boys boarding school, return and encounter extreme struggles with excessive parental control, deprived free wills, and effects of gradual mental disorders.
Like Welton Academy, Ursuline Academy, an all-girls school, consists of Dallas’ finest and most driven girls who also experience similar obstacles. Welton Academy in Dead Poets Society and Ursuline Academy both have a rich history and a reputation for producing successful, important people of the future.
“Watching Dead Poets Society, I can easily relate to the boys of Welton Academy. Like the girls at Ursuline, we are either motivated through hardships or pressured by our parents,” said a 10th grader at Ursuline Academy.
The storyline begins with Todd, a new student of Welton Academy who enters with high expectations to uphold and seeks to potentially reach the reputation of his brother, a former student who made a significant mark on the academy. On the other hand, Neal, a returning student and Todd’s roommate, struggles in dealing with his parents, specifically his father, and their expectations. Through their excessive stresses and mutual struggles, Todd and Neal become close friends.
It has been said that regardless of schools, most parents push their children to live a life they’ve always wanted. Eventually, children get cornered and follow their parents’ desires due to the mindset their parents enforce. These parents live and breathe their children’s lives to which depreciates their children of their lives.
“Ursuline Academy is super stressful. Even though I’m only in 9th grade, my parents are always bugging me about grades and going on about college admissions. Getting straight A’s is the ideal for my parents but I have other activities and passions to pursue. School isn’t everything. I have a life too,” said a 9th grader at Ursuline Academy.
Due to similar expectations and restrictions, many boys have no life outside of academics. Normal teenage experiences such as a social life and love are stolen.
As classes begin, Mr. Keating, a new literature teacher and alumnus of Welton Academy, shows and gives the boys a new perspective on life. Instead of teaching based on experts’ textual interpretations, he teaches the boys to interpret poetry for themselves. As an action towards free thinking, Mr. Keating instructs his students to tear out their textbooks’ introductions of bland, mindless expositions.
Poetry takes time and is understood through personal feelings and experiences. It takes emotions and exhibits figurative color.
As a writer and teacher, Sarah Rudell Beach of “Huffington Post” said that education could not make you wealthier or better off, but it “simply made us ‘better’”. Mr. Keating taught a valuable lesson to think for yourselves, to support and challenge one another, and to stir up ideas.
As school life at Welton Academy progresses, Neal finds Mr. Keating’s old yearbook and discovers the Dead Poets Society, a group that gave poetry a new meaning. Bringing the club back to life, Neal and his friends sneak out of their dorms at night to meet up and discuss subjects such as love, mental troubles, and issues in general.
This club provides a getaway and new insight as well. The members’ rebellion causes them to somewhat live more. These boys become more active and understanding of their environment.
Life was too short to have it be taken away so easily.
As a result of the Dead Poets Society and Mr. Keating’s influence, Neal gets out of his comfort zone and discovers his passion, acting. Although his father strongly disapproves, Neal persuades his father to allow him to act in one show. But after one show, his father drags Neal back home and makes plans to send him off to a military school which is the fastest route to medical school.