Transcendentalism in a Modern World

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The quote seize the day, gather ye rosebuds while ye may(Dead Poets Society) represents one of the many philosophies of transcendentalism, a belief based on the idea of individuality and nature. These beliefs are displayed throughout the film Dead Poets Society. It explores these views in a modern way through the eyes of a group of boys enrolled in an all boys academy.

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Through their actions, the views of transcendentalism can be seen through many perspectives. Dead Poets Society demonstrates the importance of nonconformity, individuality, and “”Carpe Diem”” through a transcendentalist point of view displayed by the characters Todd Anderson, Mr. John Keating, and Knox Overstreet.

The value of non conformity over the pressure of conformity is a strong viewpoint of transcendentalism that is shown throughout the film Dead Poets Society. A perfect example with this conflict is the protagonist, Todd Anderson. Todd does not get as much screen time as some of the other boys, but he is the protagonist because his character develops the most out of any character. When he arrives at Welton Academy, the first thing he decides to do was to set up his desk set (Dead Poets Society). Todd is displaying the presence of conformity within him right at the start of the movie. His posture is inward, his eyes are placed on the desk set, and he is refusing to talk to the other boys enrolled (Dead Poets Society). His conformist behavior obstructs his ability to reach out to everyone else. Everytime he goes back to that desk set, his conformist side is shown physically and through his non connection with others. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idea of nonconformity whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist(Emerson 366) contradicts Todds behavior of conformity. Emerson believes that conformists like Todd will not be able to succeed in life if he does not loosen the reins. An individual who is a nonconformist rebels against the conformist nature holding people back. Throughout the film, Todd starts slowly becoming a proper nonconformist that Emerson hopes for in an individual. Mr. Keating is fired due to fears of nonconformity by the school. Eventually, Todd stands up for what he believes in by standing on his school desk giving his teacher the proper goodbye he deserves (Dead Poets Society). Todd embraces his nonconformist side to do something for someone that he cared about. The fact that he stands on his desk, the thing that represent his conformist side, is now a symbol of proper nonconformity for everyone to see. He was respectful and at the same time a rebel for what he believes in. This is the transcendentalists perspective on non conformity. Standing up to a belief may be difficult, yet it can spread a reputation of someone who is working hard for their faith.

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