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File:Dead-poets l 7721.jpg

Carpe diem!

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 "Carpe diem! Seize the day, boys! Make your lives extraordinary!"

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It is 1959 and the prestigious Welton Academy has just hired John Keating (Robin Williams) as the new English teacher for the upcoming school year. A Blithe Spirit, he uses his classes to inspire his students to go against the flow and be themselves, somehow managing to make reading poetry seem like a cool, rebellious thing to do. A group of the boys, including Todd Anderson, Neil Perry, Charlie Dalton, Knox Overstreet, Richard Cameron, Steven Meeks and Gerard Pitts, form the Dead Poets Society, a group wherin they all sneak out at night to read poetry in a secluded cave. After witnessing many of Keating's unorthodox teaching methods and the effects on the students, Headmaster Nolan, the Dean Bitterman of Welton, tries to put a stop to this.

Dead Poets Society is a 1989 drama film directed Peter Weir and starring Robin Williams in one of his earlier "serious" roles. The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards: Robin Williams for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, Best Picture and winning for Best Original Screenplay.

Tropes used in Dead Poets Society include:


Chol-Sanguine Melan-Choleric Sup-ancholic Sup-anguine Phlegmatic
Charlie Dalton Richard Cameron Todd Anderson Knox Overstreet Neil Perry
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Cameron basically only gets included in the Society because he's part of the other boys' study group and is Charlie's roommate.
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 Neil: Hey, he's your roommate.

Charlie: That's not my fault.

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    • Perfectly justified. It's obvious they wouldn't have included him if they had any hope to hide him the Society, calling him a creep. And he betrays them in the end.
  • Gender Blender Name: Chris.
  • Grew a Spine: Todd, very much. Demonstrated by the end scene.
  • Hair of Gold: Again, Chris.
  • Holding Hands: During the play, Knox holds Chris's hand and she seems to reciprocate.
  • Hollywood New England: Set in Vermont.
  • Ivy League: The aspiration of most of the Welton students — the school takes quite particular pride in stating that many of its graduates went on to study at schools that belonged to the very prestigious Ivy League.
  • Jerkass: Richard.
  • Jerk Jock: Chet. Which of course leads to problems when Knox falls head-over-heels for the former's girlfriend.
  • Large Ham: Charlie has his moments, and is clearly enjoying himself at the line "To indeed be a god!"
  • Love At First Sight: Knox, Knox, Knox. One-sided as the object of his affections is "practically engaged" to someone else.
  • Meaningful Name: It couldn't have been coincidence that John Keating is a lover of poetry.
  • Military School: Neil is threatened with this by his controlling and dominating father.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Meeks claims he'd try anything once. Charlie's reply is "Except sex!"
  • Never My Fault: Neil's father blames Keating for his son's suicide even though it was largely his fault.
  • One-Gender School: Welton Academy is an all-boys school.
  • One-Liner Echo: "Oh, Captain, my Captain!" at the end.
  • Performance Anxiety: Todd has a rather severe case of this, leading to initial reluctance to join the Dead Poets Society, since he thinks it will mean having to read aloud in front of other people. Fortunately Neil insists that he doesn't have to read, and lets him take meeting minutes instead.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: The official motto. The unofficial one, student-written, is somewhat modified, shall we say.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Charlie's actions make for an interesting contrast with what Keating actually encourages. While the latter is trying to teach his students to think for themselves and be masters of their own lives, the former takes that to mean "rebel for its own sake, fight against authorities for fun." When Charlie nearly gets himself expelled for a joke, Keating calls him out on this misinterpretation.
  • Save Our Students
  • School Play
  • Sexy Sax Man: Charlie pretty obviously tries to be this. Though he claims to like the saxophone because it is more 'sonorous' than the clarinet, which his parents forced him to take.
  • Shallow Love Interest: Chris for Knox, to an extent. Through no fault of her own, though, she just doesn't get much character development onscreen and is only really loved by Knox for her appearance. She even points this out to him when she goes to confront him at Welton, replying to his repeated insistence that he loves her, "You don't even know me!"
  • Shirtless Scene
  • Shrinking Violet: Oh, Todd. At the beginning, at least, he seems to just be trying to blend in with the wallpaper half the time. Fortunately his friendship with the other Poets (Neil in particular) goes a long way toward making him a more confident person.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Although deconstructed, double subverted, and generally played with beyond all recognition, the film still tries to promote an idealistic viewpoint, even though a lot of situations in DPS are firmly on the cynical end.
  • The Smart Guy: Meeks, who aced Latin and tutors Charlie in just about every subject, something that Charlie happily admits, calling him a genius.
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 Meeks: He flatters me. That's why I help him with Latin.

Charlie: And English. And Trig.

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