Dead Poets Society

A timeless drama about golden and missed opportunities, the dangers of conformity, and the power of influence.

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Dead Poets Society tells the story of John Keating, an English teacher who returns to his preparatory alma mater to inspire his students with refrains of carpe diem (seize the day). Keating’s unorthodox teaching methods challenge the students to make their lives extraordinary, to “swim against the stream,” and to dare to become freethinkers amidst parental and educational constraints.

This study will help you discuss the deeper themes of the movie. To what extent should a person adhere to a carpe diem mentality? What are the advantages and disadvantages of conformity and its opposite, individuality? How does the movie portray parental influence? What is the purpose of education?

Discussion Guide

    • Movie Summary

    • Discussing the Scenes *Bonus Material: DVD Scenes to Watch*

—Carpe Diem: Seize the Day
(Genesis 6; Mark 5:21–34; Luke 9:24; Luke 10:38–42; John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:58)
—Conformity vs. Individuality
(2 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Matthew 6:24)
—Parental Influence
(Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:1-4; Hebrews 13:17)
    • As the Credits Roll

Based On

Dead Poets Society (Touchstone Pictures, 1989), directed by Peter Weir, screenplay by Tom Schulman, rated PG for mild language, intense thematic material, and teen drug and alcohol use.

Photo © Copyright Touchstone Pictures

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