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Dead Poets Society Challenging Authority

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Humans have always stood for their beliefs, even when overshadowed by a colossal adversary. This is what challenging authority is about, standing up for ones beliefs in the face of a foe that is above you in any way, shape or form. Challenging authority figures can be performed by any person, but is more commonly seen in adolescent youth. Teenagers reaching adulthood often rebel against their parents or other adults as an attempt to gain independence. Many authors try to capture this change from boy to man in their literature and Films Dead Poets Society written by Thomas H. Schulman and Schapelle Corby ‘insane’ written by the Sydney Morning Herald both great examples of challenging authority and the effects it will have on an individual. The Film Dead Poets Society, written by Thomas Schulman and directed by Peter Weir is a great example of the consequences involved in challenging Authority, and how it would affect the student. Charlie Dalton, one of the more defiant students decides to take rebellion to a whole new level.

Donning the new name ‘Newanda’ Charlie posted an article in the schools newsletter to bring girls to Welton academy in the name of the Dead Poets Society (a poetry group formed by Mr. Keating and reincarnated by his English students). The headmaster is insulted by this lack of behavior and calls an assembly to find and track down the members of the Dead Poets Society. The headmaster however is abruptly interrupted by a phone call. In which Charlie stands up, the camera showing a mid shot of Charlie holding the ringing telephone in his hands, answers it, and proclaims to the headmaster that it was God and he said that “We should have girls at Welton”. This stunt that Charlie pulled, to challenge authority had expelled him from Welton academy. Showing that when you challenging authority, you would not come out unscathed, especially when you embarrass your superior in front of everyone just like Charlie. The final example for challenging authority in Dead Poets Society lies with our main protagonist Neil Perry. Neil, who although is bright in many of his subjects, wishes to follow his passion in acting, although his tyrannical father, who holds no sympathy for his son’s interests, forbids him from following his passion, and carry on with his studies as they are not “well off like the other parents”.

Although repressed by his father Neil, with the help of Mr. Keating is able to build up enough courage to sign up for a play, and living by the words “Carpe Diem” plays the main role as Puck, rebelling against his father’s orders. Yet his father finds out about what Neil is doing behind his back and is not happy. In this Scene Neil has been brought home by his father straight after the play, and begins lecturing him on his future, which he has already planned out for him. This scene uses great camera work to capture the intensity of the situation and to show power struggle between father and son through the positioning of the camera, with a upwards angle to show the dominant position of the father, and a downward angle to show the inferior position of Neil, who holds no power. Yet dispute arguing the battle is lost for Neil. With Mr. Perry withdrawing his son from Welton Academy, and enlisting him into military school, Neil’s future seems bleak. In the dead of night, the camera is focused on the reef Neil wore in the play, which gives us the symbol to the martyr, sacrificing himself for what he believes in.

Foreboding music fills the atmosphere as Neil exits his room and slowly descends the stairs leading to his father’s study, and shortly after committing suicide much to the dismay of his parents. Although the gun is not seen or heard after Neil takes his own life away, it is very clear beforehand. Neil’s death demonstrates to us that when you challenge authority, you life will change, for better or worst. The news article Schapelle Corby ‘insane’ by AAP and Christine Kellett of the Sydney Morning Herald is another prime example for the effects challenging authority can have on a person.

The news article is about Schapelle Corby, who has been sentenced to prison for twenty years in Bali, on the premise of smuggling 4.1 kilograms of marijuana which like many other countries, is illegal in Bali. Using Dr. Phillips’ quote “She is lost in her own bewildering world, where fantasy, hallucinations, and bizarre ideas dominate her mine.” And using many others the writers are able to confirm to the readers that Schapelle’s mental health has degraded during her time she has spent in Bali’s prison and she needs to be transferred to a less traumatizing prison. To Conclude Dead Poets Society by Peter Weir and Schapelle Corby ‘Insane’ By AAP and Christine Kellett of the Sydney Morning Herald are both great examples in defining people who challenge authority, and the impacts it can create for the people who are involved.

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