Essay about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Dead Poets Society

Submitted By zreader55
Words: 1369
Pages: 6

Life as It Was Meant to Be There is over 7 billion human beings living in our modern world, and to be a completely unique individual within this mass, that is truly to live. The Transcendentalism movement began in the 1830’s through its father Ralph Waldo Emerson. He and his student Henry David Thoreau created multiple pieces of brilliant literature to showcase their ideology and philosophy. The philosophies cultivated the movement centralized around a belief of a higher reality than human reasoning. Transcendental ideals are highlighted through their tenants to live a life of individuality, simplicity, self-confidence, manual labor, and a life close to nature. In addition, the more modern motion picture, Dead Poets Society, further reflects this transcendental philosophy. Throughout the film, Mr. Keating, an English teacher, educates his students of ideals very similar to that of the Transcendentalists, and his students completely buy in to his teachings through following their true passions. Transcendentalism is a way of life that can undoubtedly benefit one’s life, as well as society as a whole through its value of individuality and a simplistic life.

One major facet in which Transcendentalism can create positive change is through its value of individuality. This value can be clearly seen through the movement’s founder in Emerson. Emerson felt as if on the journey of life, one should “not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” (Emerson). The non-conformist ideals can be seen to be stressed here. Emerson urges people to create their own life and be uniquely themselves, rather than conforming to the ways and life of everyone else. If society as a whole would crave more individuality, the world would in turn flourish with greater livelihoods and creativity. In the film, Dead Poets Society, the same ideal of individuality is shown. In the movie, one of Mr. Keating’s students, Neil Perry, wants to pursue a life on the stage even though his father disagrees with his plan. When Neil finally takes the individualistic ideas to heart he proclaims that “[f]or the first time in [his] whole life, [he] [knew] what [he] [wanted] to do! And for the first time, [he] [is] gonna do it! Whether [his] father wants [him] to or not! Carpe diem!” (Dead Poets Society). The value of being yourself is very evident here. Mr. Keating teaches his students that they should live out the life they want and not compromise to others, just like transcendental thought had believed. Neil took these teachings and decided that no matter what, he was going to do what he wanted to with his life, and this in turn made him a much happier and more passionate person. Additionally, in regards to individuality, Mr. Keating preaches that everyone has “a great need for acceptance, but [one] must trust that [his] beliefs are unique, [his] own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular” (Dead Poets Society). Doing what you want to in life and being yourself are expressed yet again in this example. Mr. Keating taught the great Transcendentalism belief of non-conformity, an aspect that improves lives impeccably. Individuality is a component within the transcendental movement that can be substantially advantageous to our world.

Another transcendental element that can change the way one carries out his life for the absolute better is a simplistic outlook on life. Simplicity was something Thoreau held in very high esteem. Along the quest of one’s lifetime Thoreau felt that "[a] man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone" (Thoreau). The concept of living simply and being happy with you can be seen here. The rival to simplicity, materialism, is shown to be disadvantageous through its creation of a less simplistic life and worth found through possession. Another exceptional example of how simplicity can pay great dividends in life can be found in Dead Poets Society. In the film, Mr. Keating’s…