“Our Town” and “Dead Poets Society”

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Have you ever felt that if you acted or said something differently at a different time or if you were just a minute off that there would have been a different outcome, or that two totally different things could have the same meaning and somehow be connected? Both the book ""Our Town"" and the movie Dead Poets Society are great examples of just that, despite being completely different stories they have the same themes. Both illustrate how its important it is to be oneself because of how short and fragile life is.

In both ""Our Town"" and Dead Poets Society, one of the themes portrayed is how short and repetitive life is. This creates a conflict because people are always caught up in their problems and they miss those tiny moments in life that have important meaning or are packed with emotion. In ""Our Town"", this theme is shown by how life in Grover's Corner is the same every day. One way this is demonstrated is the Stage Manager can predict that the bus comes at the same time every day and it is never a minute off. “Now they'll be coming out of high school at three o'clock.” In Grover's Corner, everyone knows the time the bus is going to come home and how predictable it is clear that based on the fact that the Stage Manager can say the time when he sees the bus, without looking at his watch . This theme is shown in Dead Poets Society. The students have dinner at the dinner hall every day and wear school uniforms as part of there everyday life traditions and constants. The uniforms show how life is plain, boring and the same. “All throughout the pews, uniformed boys rise to their feet. Todd, who is not wearing a uniform, is urged by his father to stand with them.” Not only are all the boys wearing the same thing, they are all doing the same thing emphasizing how boring and repetitive life is.

Another common theme between “Our Town” and Dead Poets Society is how impermanent, fragile and delicate life is. In “Our Town”, Emily looks back on her life after she died. Even though she is advised not to, she decides to go back anyway, to a single day. She enjoys it at first, then as time goes on, she starts to realize that what she had back then was great, and how its no longer there and it was lost in a heartbeat. Emily states “I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another.” Emily sees that life is fragile; she didn’t realize how great things were in the middle of it, however once it's over she looks at her life and wishes she could go back. In Dead Poets Society, this concept was shown with Neil's death, because everyone realizes how what they have only lasts for so long and how it is special. “The death of Neil Perry is a tragedy. He was a fine student. One of Welton's best. And he will be missed.“ The students are mourning the death of Neil and they are realizing that what they have, took years to get and can be gone in seconds, demonstrating the fragility of life.

A third and final common theme in the play and movie is that everyone should follow his or her own path and seize the day and that way life isn’t so monotonous and even though its fragile you still get to enjoy every single moment. This is demonstrated in “Our Town”, with the Stage Manager and in Dead Poets Society with Mr. Keating. The Stage Manager in “Our Town” is always helping guide the audience and characters to realize that they need to be themselves and follow their own paths, not the paths their parents set for them. He asks, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? every, every minute?” The stage manager’s question reflects the characters realization that no one seizes the day while they are in the moment, but then looking back, you realize they should have appreciated the small things more, instead of waiting for the big day or big occasion. In Dead Poets Society, Mr. Keating helps the boys realize that they are their own person and that they don’t need to live a life of conformity, or to follow the path their parents want. He teaches them to be unique through the ripping out the pages. One thing Keating tells the boys is “Now in my class you will learn to think for yourselves again. You will learn to savor words and language. No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” This quote takes place in Mr. Keating's class and it shows how the boys need to be themselves and follow their own path. It also shows they need to seize the day because the way he's teaching his class is very different from every other teacher as he tries tirelessly to get them to live in the moment, and change the world with their words and ideas.

In conclusion, the movie and the play while being very different still have similar themes. While it may not appear at the surface like these two are the same they in depth are very much similar and have the common themes of Life is repetitive, and boring, and we should appreciate the moments in life that may seem small and insignificant even though it turns out they are much more than that. Life is fragile and can be gone in a second and that you should seize the day and follow your own path, or as best put from the movie “Rent”, there is “no day but today.”

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"Our Town" and "Dead Poets Society". (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved April 23, 2024 , from

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