All My Sons and Dead Poets Society Comparison
Despite the fact that the play All My Sons, and the film Dead Poets Society are completely unrelated, it is evident that there are numerous thematic similarities between these works. Arthur Millers play, All My Sons, examines the morality of a man, Joe Keller, who places his narrow responsibility to his immediate family above his wider responsibility to those who rely on the integrity of his work. On a totally different spectrum, the motion picture Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir, is based on an idealistic teacher, Mr. Keating, who stirs up the conformed waters of a recognized preparatory school, inspiring individual identity and the will of his students to suck the marrow out of life. The following paper will proceed to explain how a connection can be drawn between these two pieces. Firstly, father-son relationships in both compositions will be examined. Subsequently, the relation between the proverbs Ignorance is Bliss within the pieces will be drawn. Lastly, it will be determined how in both works, the domestic bubble played a role in creating personal distance from reality.
In the Dead Poets Society, prior to meeting with Mr. Keating, Neil Perry had a very interesting relationship with his father. When he was not with him, Neil appeared to be a natural born leader, who tried to encourage others to become more outspoken. However, he immediately became submissive and obedient as soon as his father came into the picture. Evidently, Neil was brought up in an environment that was very strict and harsh, which did not allow him to express himself in any way. This is evident in the following excerpt from Mr. Perry: "After you've finished medical school and you're on your own you can do as you damn well please! But until then, you do as I tell you to!" Thus, Neil felt that he could not express himself through acting unless he did it behind his fathers back. As was to be expected, Mr. Perry eventually found out about Neils forgery and immediately took a severe stand. Neil had no choice but to do his fathers bidding, and to quit the play. Now, in an indecisive state, Neil approached Mr. Keating for advice. Neil was encouraged by Mr. Keating to act, and to try to talk to his father in a gentlemanly fashion. Following this conversation, it is clear that Neils perception of his father had changed. He now felt that how he had been treated was completely immoral, and that he should have a say in how he conducted his life. Despite the fact that Neil still viewed his father at a higher level than himself, he did not feel that his father should make decisions for him. Following Neils performance, Mr. Perry dragged Neil from the celebration and immediately took him home. He then gave Neil absolutely no choice but to stop acting, and to go to military school. Neil resented what his father had decided, and felt that there was no solution. Thus, despite what was concluded by Mr. Nolan, the corrupt relationship between Neil and his father is undoubtedly what led to his eventual suicide.
In All My Sons, Chris relationship with his father, Joe Keller, unlike that of Neil and Mr. Perry, which was steadily frustrating, can be categorized as one that changes throughout the play. In the first act, it is evident that the two men do not exhibit the ideal father-son relationship. It is overwhelmed with conflict and resentment on multiple levels. For example, Joe has a great expectation that Chris will follow in his footsteps and take over the family business. However, Chris has ambitions intentions to pursue a professional career in the city. As he says, Ill have to get outIll get married and live someplace. Maybe in New Yorkthe Business! The business doesnt inspire me!(16) Joe takes this very personally and in the same scene, more conflict continues to arise. Chris exclaims that he is planning to ask Annie, his brother, Larrys former fiance, to marry him. This brings up a controversy in the Keller family because Larry was gone missing in action in World War Two. The family has optimistic feelings, hoping that Larry will return someday. Thus, Joe immediately responds to Chris proposal with doubt. Joe responds, The girl is Larrys girl.(16) Aside from the few legitimate arguments, Chris still looks up to his father with respect, and admires him for his contribution to the war effort. Chris has always had complete trust in his father, and he supported his actions without question. As well, Joe had a similar appreciation for Chris, because Im his father and hes my son.(77) However, following the incident where Chris discovered that Joe had blatantly disregarded the safety of Chris boys (70), his outlook on his father is completely changed.
Due to this, Chris immediately lost all trust in his father, his former source of moral support. This loss of faith created a sense of shame, and betrayal which left Chris in a state of disbelief. As well, following this, Chris strong morals overwhelmed Joe, subduing him to a point where he could not even answer his son. As Miller writes, How could you do that?Dad, you killed twenty-one men!(69) Joe was then forced to try to make an excuse for his despicable actions. He claimed that he sent the broken parts as a businessman as well as a family man, in order to create a business for you [Chris].(70) As Joe explains, What the hell did I work for? That's only for you, Chris, the whole shootin' match is for you.(17) Chris believes none of this, and continues to accuse his father of being a filthy murderer. This is evident in Chris following speech, What the hell are you? You are not even an animal, no animal kills his own. Who are you?(70) From the contrasting relationship between the two characters, we are able to conclude a fair amount about them. Joe is clearly a realist, in that he chose solely to consider the future of his family, as opposed to that of the soldiers who could possibly be put into danger. As a result of his decisions, it can be concluded that Chris is quite different from his father in that he has very strong morals. To him, monetary importance is far less significant than the value of brotherhood. Thus, the conflicting ideology of Chris and Joe led to an unstable and unpredictable relationship.
Looking at the subsequent theme, it can be concluded that Mr. Nolans actions, decisions, and personality incarnates the proverb Ignorance is Bliss. On numerous occasions throughout the film, it was demonstrated that Mr. Nolan was aware of Mr. Keatings questionable teaching strategies. Through his surprised facial expressions, and bewildered body language, it was understandable that he was not satisfied with how Mr. Keating had been teaching, particularly because he had completely diverged from the traditional teaching methods of the school. A simple question immediately arises: Why did Mr. Nolan, despite the fact that he clearly knew about Mr. Keatings classroom approach, not take any action to stop him? Mr. Nolan is a character who truly believes that Ignorance is Bliss. Due to the fact that he feigns not to know about how Mr. Keating had been conducting himself in the classroom, he did not have to take action in correcting it. Thus, he was able to steer free of any conflict, and live in a stress-free environment. However, it was clearly depicted in the film that Mr. Nolan was eventually forced to take action and hold accountable whoever was at fault. Although it may seem that Mr. Nolan was aware of what was going on in Mr. Keatings English classroom, due to the fact that, on numerous occasions he turned his back to the reality of the situation, he truly was unaware of the truth. Thus, a faulty conviction took place and Mr. Keating was fired for having stressed the importance of individuality, and creativity in the classroom. One is now able to question, whether or not the situation would have turned out differently if Mr. Nolan did not disregard the teaching of Mr. Keating, and instead, investigate and rectify the situation?
Similar to the instances in Dead Poets Society involving Mr. Nolan, from the play All My Sons it is apparent that Joe Keller kept the secret about producing faulty cylinder heads from his family in order to retain an atmosphere in which Ignorance is Bliss. It was demonstrated through dramatic irony that the Keller family was not aware of Joe having sent out a shipment of damaged plane parts. Furthermore, once the Keller family did become aware of the delivery, Joe denied being conscious of any occurrences pertaining to shipping broken cylinder heads, thereby completely freeing himself of any blame. Though, Why did Joe keep the secret from his family? This can be explained by the famous proverb, Ignorance is Bliss. Joe felt that his family did not understand the way the world is made(77) as well as the meaning of money. Thus, there was absolutely no chance that they would understand and support his decision. As a result, Joe did not even bother to explain his actions to his family, which resulted in an environment in which Joe could live in peace. Did Joe ever believe that the truth would eventually escape? In fact, contrary to what may seem logical, Joe was afraid maybe(70) that the planes would crash. Thus, he did have enough intelligence to realize that he would not get away that easily. From this one is able to assess numerous qualities of Joes personality. Firstly, it is clear that he does not have any foresight, and thus his decisions do not consider any forthcoming events. This is evident in that Joe did not consider the consequence of blaming the shipment on George. As well, this teaches us that Joe is one who strives for immediate satisfaction. He does not consider the future as long as his decision will be followed by a period of happiness. When the time comes, only then will he choose to deal with forthcoming conflicts. Thus, Joe Kellers ignorant attitude and personality undoubtedly played a key role in contributing to the outcome of the play.
When analyzing the next theme it is evident that in the film Dead Poets Society, Mr. Keatings unique ideology clearly added to his personal distance from reality. Firstly, when Mr. Keating arrived at Welton Academy, he was undoubtedly aware of its distinguished reputation, and high standards. Though, even with this in mind, he continued to conduct himself in a nonconforming fashion. For example, in trying to demonstrate how one should look at a poem from more than one angle, Mr. Keating ordered his students to stand on his desk, and observe the classroom. From this, it can be concluded that Mr. Keating has a very creative teaching style, which is intended to bring out individualism, and depth in his students writing. However, why would Mr. Keating attempt to teach in such a way if he knew that he was not in compliance with the schools rules? The answer is clearly demonstrated in one of Mr. Keatings most profound commands: Carpe Diem - seize the day. He felt that the students at Welton were not given the opportunity to express themselves in a way that would be noncompliant to the ideas of others. In bringing this ideology to the classroom, Mr. Keating introduced poetry to his students in an attractive way. This encouraged them in reading, writing, but most importantly, in enjoying poetry. Despite the fact that he did so with an unorthodox approach, he still succeeded in getting his students to seize opportunities, to reach out for the unknown, and to open ones self up to new experiences. Henry David Thoreau sums up all that Mr. Keating stands for, I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life... to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. (Walden - Henry David Thoreau)
Unlike Dead Poets Society, it is clear that in All My Sons a number of different characters, as well as Kate played influential roles in creating her personal distance from reality. Initially, Kate induced her own severance from reality in order to convince herself that her son, Larry would return from war. She did so through the influential and optimistic horoscopes found by Frank Lubey. As he stated, He was supposed to have died on November twenty-fifth. But November twenty-fifth was his favorable day.(66) Thus, Kates mood was immediately uplifted, and she became even more adamant that Larry was going to return. It can be concluded that Kate is a nave character in that she so stubbornly feels that Larry is going to suddenly arrive home. She believes that he will obviously come back, Because certain things have to be, and certain things can never be. Like the sun has to rise, it has to be.(28) This statement is very narrow minded, in that Kate considers it impossible for her son not to return. In addition, this change in Kates frame of mind influenced how she acted around Annie, Larrys former fiance. She insisted that Annie must leave the house in order to prevent her and Chris from wedding. On numerous occasions, she stated that, She doesnt belong here and Shes Larrys girl.(67) Consequently, this obstinate attitude influenced how Chris comported himself around his mother. Despite the fact that Larry is his brother, Chris still felt pessimistically about his homecoming. This can be accounted for by the fact that Chris had fallen in love with his brothers former fiance. Thus, if Larry would return, there is a chance that Chris would not get to marry her. As a result, Chris had a negative reaction towards the idea of the horoscopes. As he objects, Stop filing her head with that junkits insane.(66) On the other hand, Joe felt positively about Larrys arrival. Aside from the obvious that Joe is Larrys father, this is due to the possible guilt that he may be held accountable for the death of his own son. Thus, in trying to protect himself, he tries to convince his wife, What do you mean if?hes comin back.(66) As it has been demonstrated, Kates promising frame of mind was clearly influenced by the actions of her immediate family.
In conclusion, it has evidently been established that there are various thematic parallels that can be drawn between All My Sons and Dead Poets Society. Despite the fact that the plot and morals of the two works are completely unrelated, father-son relationships, ignorance, and the domestic bubble each play a separate role in changing the outcome of the story. Aside from the dissimilar conflicts between father and son in each plot, it was demonstrated that both the Kellers and Perrys had anything but an ideal relationships. As well, it was clarified that ignorance influenced both Mr. Nolan in that he did not want to search for a new teacher, and Joe who felt that he was most responsible for his family. Lastly, in Mr. Nolans case, it was established that his personal distance from reality was solely caused by his personal lack of concern. However, it was also clarified that Kates friends and family influenced her self-induced distance from reality. As it has been verified, numerous conclusions can be drawn relating to the thematic similarities of the two works.
all my sons, and dead poet society the movie.