Transcendentalism In Dead Poets Society Essay, Research Paper
Transcendentalism emerged as a philosophical and literary movement during the nineteenth century which focused on intuition and the individual conscience. Established by the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, Transcendentalism gained support from writers such as Emmerson Thoreau, and Fuller. These supporters believed that fundamental truths are known to the heart and therefor cannot be grasped by the senses. As applied to modern times, the movie Dead Poets Society depicts the Transcendental truths of self-reliance and non conformity. This Philosophy of Transcendentalism can be seen as having both positive and negative effects.
One transcendental truth, the concept of trusting thyself, can be defined as the way an individual becomes self-reliant thus freeing himself from the enslavement of a society that conspires against him to conform. Confidence is having faith in one’s own ideas and beliefs and acting upon these convictions. In trusting thyself one must be confident in what he or she has to offer, though society might shun it. It is evident in the movie Dead Poets Society that Todd Anderson, a character lacking self confidence and self esteem, does not allow his true feelings to prevail. In a particular situation in the movieTodd’s friends decide to sneak out of the institution where they are staying to recite poetry in a cave. When Todd declares that he is not so sure about the idea his friends continually beg and plead with him until Todd finally gives in. Through this situation one can see that Todd Anderson in not at all self-reliant. Todd does not express his true feelings and emotions which cause Todd to make bad decisions. It can also be seen that Todd Anderson lacks self confidence when he is unable to express his own feelings in a classroom assignment. Todd is asked to recite a poem in front of the class which he is afraid to do because he is too shy and lacks the self esteem needed to do this assignment. However, with his teacher, Mr. Keating encouraging him, Todd gains what he needs and is able to complete the assignment. Through Todd’s action of participating one can see that this is very beneficial to him. By taking part in the assignment Todd gains self confidence, self esteem, a sense of self worth, and courage. A second transcendental truth, non conformity, a concept in which a person expresses their own thoughts and beliefs and acts upon their impulses that cause that person to become an individual and stand out in a crowd. In order to be a non conformist one must set their own expectations, stand for what he or she believes in, become self reliant, and march to their own beat. The young, eccentric, outgoing, Charles Dalton, in the Dead Poets Society, illustrates the concept of non conformity perfectly. The teacher, Mr. Keating, proposes a class assignment in which student are asked to walk around a court yard until each student conforms and marches in sync with the other. When this happens, Mr. Keating asks that everyone in the class participate and each walk at his own speed, pattern and style. Charles Dalton chooses not to walk and by doing so proves the point the teacher is trying to make that because something is popular it may not always be right. The ramifications of Charles Dalton opting not to participate are beneficial to not only him but also to his teacher. Dalton proves the point the teacher is trying to make and advances in the path of non conformity. By not walking Dalton is able to express his own feelings and thoughts. He learns that sometimes one’s initial judgement is the right one. Whether Dalton Knows it or not he can be considered a non conformist.
The effects of transcendentalism can be seen as having both positive and negative effects. By not expressing our own beliefs are actions do not become beneficial to us or to others. So to excel and succeed in all that we do we must be self-reliant and allow our true feelings to prevail.