Peck's Theory of Love and Discipline in the film The Dead Poet's Society
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Peck's Theory of Love and Discipline As Applied to
Character Relationships in "The Dead Poets Society"
Life is difficult.
These are the words with which M. Scott Peck begins The Road Less Traveled. In his opinion, realizing that life is difficult is the first important step on the way to solving life's problems. The second, and perhaps most important, step to solving life's problems is realizing the need for discipline and understanding what discipline is. According to Peck (1978), "without discipline we can solve nothing. With total discipline we can solve all problems" (16-17). The relationships of various characters within the film "Dead Poets Society" shows that even total discipline is unable to solve all problems…show more content…
The Perrys apparently are not a particularly rich family, and the parents sacrificed a lot to have their son go to a prestigious prep school, of which Neil is almost constantly reminded when meeting with his father. Anything that stands in the way of Neil becoming a doctor is unacceptable to his father. Even seeing his son perform wonderfully in a Shakespearean play does not change his mind, as he prepares to withdraw Neil from Hilton and send him to a military academy to ensure his medical career. Neil, who never finds in himself the ability to confront his father to defend his own interests and beliefs, commits suicide.
Neil's father utilizes discipline only at the end, when he sees his son's performance as a threat to his plans and thus a child's defiance of a parent. Even then, however, the transfer to a military school is more of a means to ensure Neil becomes what Mr. Perry wants him to be rather than a threat to ensure compliance without the need for transfer, which could be viewed as a disciplinary action. Throughout the film, Mr. Perry receives Neil's compliance simply through invoking the son's responsibility towards the sacrifices his parents have made to put him where he is, with phrases like "you know how much this means to your mother," or "I've sacrificed a lot for you to have the