Themes of Oppression in the Dead Poets Society

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In Dead Poets Society the audience is presented with a multitude of examples of oppression and watch as the characters attempt to break free of the bonds that it produces. Neil Perry wants to be an actor but unable to get his father’s approval, he decides to be free he must commit suicide. Mr Keating has a love of teaching and hates conformity in society but is fired for causing Neil’s suicide by preaching nonconformity. Charlie Dalton wants to live life to the fullest and as a result of his behaviour he is expelled.

Neil is ruled by his father and is afraid to stand up to him. This oppression is demonstrated to the audience through use of camera shots showing Neil’s father at a higher angle than his son. This is effective in illustrating the contrasting levels of power between the two individuals. After getting the lead role in the local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, he becomes passionate about acting. Mr Perry, upon finding out about Neil’s involvement with the play, visits the school and tells Neil to quit the play. The physical distance between the two in the camera shot represents a conceptual separation as well: that of thoughts and ideals. Neil is further repressed by the words and actions of his father. His father tells him “Is it more of this, this acting business? Because you can forget that” and to follow the path that he wishes Neil to. It is now when Neil decides to be free of his father’s oppression he must kill himself. The music in Neil’s suicide

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