ENG 102 JF Drake State Technical Dead Poet’s Society Film Analysis Topic:
Film Analysis of Dead Poet’s Society
Apr 13, 2019 1:00 AM (14 hrs)
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* After watching Dead Poets Society, formulate a argumentative thesis that utilizes (3) separate works from the ENG 102 Readings.
* Martin Luther King, Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Thoreau: Walden: Economy and Conclusion , and Emerson: Self Reliance. These are the readings, they will be attached in the files.
* What are the driving ideas/themes you see in Dead Poets Society? Connect one or more of these ideas to this semesters literature in a coherent, organized and unified essay. The theme I have selected from the movie is ” Carpe Diem” Seize the day. Will need to cite from the 3 readings that reflect Carpe Diem.
* Your final essay should 1000-1500 words (4-6 pages), typed, double-spaced, formatted according to MLA standards. Self-Reliance
from Essays: First Series (1841)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Ne te quaesiveris extra.”
“Man is his own star; and the soul that can
Render an honest and a perfect man,
Commands all light, all influence, all fate;
Nothing to him falls early or too late.
Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
Our fatal shadows that walk by us still.”
Epilogue to Beaumont and Fletcher’s Honest Man’s Fortune
Cast the bantling on the rocks,
Suckle him with the she-wolf’s teat;
Wintered with the hawk and fox,
Power and speed be hands and feet.
ESSAY II Self-Reliance
I read the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which were original and not
conventional. The soul always hears an admonition in such lines, let the subject be what it may.
The sentiment they instil is of more value than any thought they may contain. To believe your
own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is
genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due
time becomes the outmost, and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the
Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to
Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men
but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes
across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he
dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our
own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art
have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous
impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the
other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have
thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from
There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance;
that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that
though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but
through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which
resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he
know until he has tried. [ ] We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea
which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be
faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved
and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done
otherwise, shall give him no peace [ ]
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has
found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have
always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their
perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands,
predominating in all their being. [ ]
[ ] Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it, so that one babe commonly makes four or five
out of the adults who prattle and play to it. So God has armed youth and puberty and manhood no
less with its own piquancy and charm, and made it enviable and gracious and its claims not to be
put by, if it will stand by itself. Do not think the youth has no force, because he cannot speak to
you and me. [ ]
[ ] A boy is in the parlour what the pit is in the playhouse; independent, irresponsible, looking
out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their
merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome.
He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine
verdict. You must court him: he does not court you. But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by
his consciousness. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person,
watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections must now enter into his
account. [ ]
These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into
the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.
Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread
to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is
conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and
Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not
be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred
but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the
world. I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued
adviser, who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my saying,
What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend
suggested, “But these impulses may be from below, not from above.” I replied, “They do not
seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil’s child, I will live then from the Devil.” No law can be
sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that
or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is
to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but
he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and
dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is
right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways. If malice and vanity
wear the coat of philanthropy, shall that pass? [ ]
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in
actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and
meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your
duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in
solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with
perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is, that it scatters your force.
It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. If you maintain a dead church,
contribute to a dead Bible-society, vote with a great party either for the government or against it,
spread your table like base housekeepers, under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the
precise man you are. And, of course, so much force is withdrawn from your proper life. But do
your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. A man must
consider what a blindman’s-buff is this game of conformity. If I know your sect, I anticipate your
argument. I hear a preacher announce for his text and topic the expediency of one of the
institutions of his church. Do I not know beforehand that not possibly can he say a new and
spontaneous word? Do I not know that, with all this ostentation of examining the grounds of the
institution, he will do no such thing? Do I not know that he is pledged to himself not to look but at
one side, the permitted side, not as a man, but as a parish minister? He is a retained attorney,
and these airs of the bench are the emptiest affectation. Well, most men have bound their eyes
with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of
opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false
in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. [ ]
For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how
to estimate a sour face. The by-standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend’s
parlour. If this aversation had its origin in contempt and resistance like his own, he might well go
home with a sad countenance; but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no
deep cause, but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs. [ ]
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers
and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern
himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow
speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?
Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and
Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be
I suppose no man can violate his nature. [ ] Your genuine action will explain itself, and will
explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. Act singly, and what you
have already done singly will justify you now. Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm
enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me
now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. The force of
character is cumulative. [ ]
I hope in these days we have heard the last of conformity and consistency. [ ] The man must be
so much, that he must make all circumstances indifferent. Every true man is a cause, a country,
and an age; requires infinite spaces and numbers and time fully to accomplish his design; and
posterity seem to follow his steps as a train of clients. A man Caesar is born, and for ages after we
have a Roman Empire. Christ is born, and millions of minds so grow and cleave to his genius, that
he is confounded with virtue and the possible of man. An institution is the lengthened shadow of
one man; [ ]
The magnetism which all original action exerts is explained when we inquire the reason of selftrust. Who is the Trustee? What is the aboriginal Self, on which a universal reliance may be
grounded? What is the nature and power of that science-baffling star, without parallax, without
calculable elements, which shoots a ray of beauty even into trivial and impure actions, if the least
mark of independence appear? The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius,
of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as
Intuition, whilst all later teachings are tuitions. In that deep force, the last fact behind which
analysis cannot go, all things find their common origin. For, the sense of being which in calm
hours rises, we know not how, in the soul, is not diverse from things, from space, from light, from
time, from man, but one with them, and proceeds obviously from the same source whence their
life and being also proceed. We first share the life by which things exist, and afterwards see them
as appearances in nature, and forget that we have shared their cause. Here is the fountain of
action and of thought. Here are the lungs of that inspiration which giveth man wisdom, and which
cannot be denied without impiety and atheism. We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which
makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity. When we discern justice, when we
discern truth, we do nothing of ourselves, but allow a passage to its beams. If we ask whence this
comes, if we seek to pry into the soul that causes, all philosophy is at fault. Its presence or its
absence is all we can affirm. Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his mind, and
his involuntary perceptions, and knows that to his involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due.
He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night,
not to be disputed. [ ]
The relations of the soul to the divine spirit are so pure, that it is profane to seek to interpose
helps. It must be that when God speaketh he should communicate, not one thing, but all things;
should fill the world with his voice; should scatter forth light, nature, time, souls, from the centre
of the present thought; and new date and new create the whole. Whenever a mind is simple, and
receives a divine wisdom, old things pass away, means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives
now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour. All things are made sacred by relation to
it, one as much as another. All things are dissolved to their centre by their cause, and, in the
universal miracle, petty and particular miracles disappear. If, therefore, a man claims to know
and speak of God, and carries you backward to the phraseology of some old mouldered nation in
another country, in another world, believe him not. Is the acorn better than the oak which is its
fulness and completion? Is the parent better than the child into whom he has cast his ripened
being? Whence, then, this worship of the past? The centuries are conspirators against the sanity
and authority of the soul. Time and space are but physiological colors which the eye makes, but
the soul is light; where it is, is day; where it was, is night; and history is an impertinence and an
injury, if it be any thing more than a cheerful apologue or parable of my being and becoming.
Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes
some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses
under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are;
they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every
moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower
there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature,
in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with
reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to
foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present,
This should be plain enough. Yet see what strong intellects dare not yet hear God himself, unless
he speak the phraseology of I know not what David, or Jeremiah, or Paul. We shall not always set
so great a price on a few texts, on a few lives. We are like children who repeat by rote the
sentences of grandames and tutors, and, as they grow older, of the men of talents and character
they chance to see, painfully recollecting the exact words they spoke; afterwards, when they
come into the point of view which those had who uttered these sayings, they understand them,
and are willing to let the words go; for, at any time, they can use words as good when occasion
comes. If we live truly, we shall see truly. It is as easy for the strong man to be strong, as it is for
the weak to be weak. [ ]
But now we are a mob. Man does not stand in awe of man, nor is his genius admonished to stay at
home, to put itself in communication with the internal ocean, but it goes abroad to beg a cup of
water of the urns of other men. We must go alone. I like the silent church before the service
begins, better than any preaching. [ ]
[ ] I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what
I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not
hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before
the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love
you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but
not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not
selfishly, but humbly and truly. [ ]
[ ] We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age
yields no great and perfect persons. We want men and women who shall renovate life and our
social state, but we see that most natures are insolvent, cannot satisfy their own wants, have an
ambition out of all proportion to their practical force, and do lean and beg day and night
continually. Our housekeeping is mendicant, our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our
religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the
rugged battle of fate, where strength is born.
[ ] Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will. Regret calamities, if you can
thereby help the sufferer; if not, attend your own work, and already the evil begins to be repaired.
Our sympathy is just as base. We come to them who weep foolishly, and sit down and cry for
company, instead of imparting to them truth and health in rough electric shocks, putting them
once more in communication with their own reason. The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. [ ]
As men’s prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect. They say
with those foolish Israelites, ‘Let not God speak to us, lest we die. Speak thou, speak any man with
us, and we will obey.’ Everywhere I am hindered of meeting God in my brother, because he has
shut his own temple doors, and recites fables merely of his brother’s, or his brother’s brother’s
God. Every new mind is a new classification. If it prove a mind of uncommon activity and power,
a Locke, a Lavoisier, a Hutton, a Bentham, a Fourier, it imposes its classification on other men,
and lo! a new system. In proportion to the depth of the thought, and so to the number of the
objects it touches and brings within reach of the pupil, is his complacency. But chiefly is this
apparent in creeds and churches, which are also classifications of some powerful mind acting on
the elemental thought of duty, and man’s relation to the Highest. Such is Calvinism, Quakerism,
Swedenborgism. The pupil takes the same delight in subordinating every thing to the new
terminology, as a girl who has just learned botany in seeing a new earth and new seasons thereby.
It will happen for a time, that the pupil will find his intellectual power has grown by the study of
his master’s mind. But in all unbalanced minds, the classification is idolized, passes for the end,
and not for a speedily exhaustible means, so that the walls of the system blend to their eye in the
remote horizon with the walls of the universe; the luminaries of heaven seem to them hung on the
arch their master built. They cannot imagine how you aliens have any right to see, how you can
see; ‘It must be somehow that you stole the light from us.’ They do not yet perceive, that light,
unsystematic, indomitable, will break into any cabin, even into theirs. Let them chirp awhile and
call it their own. [ ]
Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the
cumulative force of a whole lif…
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