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Dead poets society film techniques essay help

May 18, 2018

Revolution is about the need to re-evolve political, economic and social justice and power back into the hands of the people, preferably through legislation and policies that make human sense. That's what revolution is about. Revolution is not about shootouts. Bobby Seale

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9 May 2016

I have written some introductory paragraphs for you if you are thinking about using the film Dead Poets Society as a related text.

You will need to include a paragraph that examines TWO scenes, with film techniques, and discuss how the concept of Belonging is explored in these scenes if you wish to use this text

Q – The challenge to belong may be resisted or embraced.

The challenge to belong may be resisted or embraced and this concept is explored in detail in Peter Weir’s film, Dead Poets Society. In this film we go on a journey with the student body of Welton Academy, an exclusive private school, and English teacher John Keating as they re-form the Dead Poets Society in the hope of exloring their own dreams. Eventually though, this act is seen as defying the honour code of belonging to the school and as the boys choose to embrace their individuality they are met with tragic consequences.

The “four pillars” of Welton are established in the beginning of the film and this sets the tone for the expectations of the Welton community. In the opening scenes the headmaster praises the school, its tradition and its performance and the audience is left with no doubt that to belong to Welton means to unquestioningly abide by the “four pillars” tradition, honour and discipline. To do so, as the rest of the film goes on to show, means to conform at the expense of any individual passions or pursuits, success is measured by adhering to the group expectations rather than individual goals.

John Keating does not belong at Welton, not just because of his progressive teaching methods, but because he encourages boys to think and act for themselves, to change, not to conform. He incites them to take risks and break rules in pursuit of individual pleasures. The theme of resisting the challenge to belong is most sharply focused on the relationship between Neil and his father.

Conformity and Success Theme Icon Conformity and Success Theme Icon

The first scene of the novel conveys the preeminence of conformity at Welton Academy: Welton’s students dutifully file into the chapel, dressed in the same school blazers and reciting the same “four pillars” of success at Welton (tradition, honor, discipline, excellence). In a way, conformity—the blind emphasis on sameness and repetition—is the real villain of Dead Poets Society. It’s important to understand where conformity comes from and why it has the potential to be so dangerous.

The four pillars of Welton—tradition, honor, discipline, and excellence—are different aspects of the same conformist model of success, a model that by definition can’t work for everyone. Both in school and in life, Welton students are ordered to follow the same rules. Ultimately, the point of following the rules is to achieve “success,” but only in the narrow, material sense of getting good grades, going to a good school, and finding a high-paying job. In this way, the four pillars of Welton are designed to force students to aspire for the same kinds of success—and, essentially, to become the same people.

At times, the novel is sympathetic to the idea of conformity—there are, after all, times when it’s good to follow the rules and pursue the same kinds of success that other people have achieved. Mr. Perry, the father of Neil Perry, a Welton Academy student, seems to genuinely care about his son, even if he expresses his love through the language of conformity and discipline. Mr. Perry, it’s implied, comes from a poor family, and so wants his son to have the best life possible—and as he sees it, this means forcing Neil to do well in school, go to Harvard, and become a prosperous doctor. So one clear advantage of “success” as Welton defines it is that it produces students who can support themselves financially, find challenging, fulfilling work, and raise a family.

Nevertheless, the novel is mostly skeptical of Welton’s model of success, because it forces young people to conform to rules that don’t work for everyone, a state that often produces more misery than happiness. The ultimate goal of studying hard and following the rules, one would think, is that it produces lasting happiness. But, as the novel emphasizes again and again, many of the students of Welton, as well as their parents, are conspicuously unhappy. Students hate their parents for micromanaging their lives and forcing them to study hard. By the same token, the parents of Welton students have become so obsessed with the idea of making their children “successful” that it’s overshadowed their natural affection for their children. (In the novel, not a single parent of a Welton student is portrayed positively.) Ultimately, conformity has no psychological or spiritual “payoff”—it just produces more conformity. The same could be said of Welton’s understanding of success—students are trained to achieve “success for the sake of success,” not for their own happiness.

At the end of the novel, we see the moral bankruptcy of Welton’s celebration of success and conformity. After Neil Perry’s suicide, the Welton headmaster, Gale Nolan, scrambles to find a teacher to blame for the tragedy. In the end, he holds John Keating responsible for Neil’s suicide, and fires him from the school. As the students of Welton recognize right away, Nolan doesn’t really blame Keating for Neil’s death at all—he just wants to avoid a scandal that would jeopardize Welton’s alumni relations, and therefore its status as an elite, “successful” school. This suggests that Welton’s emphasis on “conformity for the sake of conformity” is even more sinister than it appears: Nolan is more concerned with his own professional success than with right and wrong or the welfare of his students. Ultimately, the novel shows that Welton’s overemphasis on conformity produces shallow, morally blind, deeply unhappy people.

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