John Keating: the Tragic Hero

The film Dead Poets Society, is about a new English teacher, John Keating who is introduced to an all boys preparatory school that is known for its ancient traditions. The school, Welton Academy is known for Tradition, Honor, Discipline, and Excellence. Keating is one of the many tragic heroes in Dead Poets Society. A tragic hero, is the protagonist of a tragedy in dramas. They experience conflict which adds toward their tragic downfall. John Keating being one of them. The first appearance of John Keating is during his first english class, which soon leads to his downfall.

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During the beginning of the film , Keating is first introduced to the entire school as their new English instructor. Heads turn to the new guy as Headmaster Nolan emphasizes the great importance tradition reputation carry for Welton. At Welton ,it’s all about Legacy ,of which the old English professor was a part. As you can see Mr. Keating has a lot of work to do. On that basis, Keating begins to urge his students “seize the day” which means to be extraordinary, to do original things instead of only imitating their parents and educators. His example of the situation inspires the students to receive a secret society of which Keating was once a member of. Keating emphasises on freedom at Welton, a school that celebrates tradition above everything else. When his students begin fighting back against the Welton administration more and more overtly. Despite Mr. Keating’s faculty objections he imparts heavy wisdom into his students. Not just meaning “Carpe Diem”, even though it’s very important. He teaches them about life, love, and poetry. At this point Keating begins to get closer to his students, which for a teacher is highly strange. Mr. Keating at heart becomes their leader, and inspiring them to make big changes in their lives ,which soon leads them to forming the Dead Poets Society; Eventually leading to his downfall.

By the given trait issues, Keating was then fired from Welton Academy, later on in the film. When Neal kills himself, largely because of his father’s dominance in his life, Mr. Keating is fired. After Neil Perry commits suicide Mr. Keating is used as a scapegoat by the school to placate parents for Neil’s death. Neil’s death could possibly be the reason for Mr. Keating being fired. Mr. Keating uses his unusual ideas to negate the 4 pillars of Welton Academy and represent the modern ideas that were dropped in 1950’s England. This could have been planned in Neil’s mindset to get Keating fired.

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John Keating: The Tragic Hero. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from
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