Directors use many different techniques when filming a movie. Unlike other forms of storytelling, movie directors have completely control of what the viewer sees. An author picks words to describe what they see, but most words have multiple meanings. This can lead to confusion about many scenes in numerous books. Stage directors can pick the set, the costumes, and the actors, but what an audience member sees is still up to the work of others. Also, no two shows are ever identical, so you could see a play on a Wednesday, and then go on Thursday and things would append differently.
Films, however, are completely under the director’s control. Once something Is filmed and added, It stays that way forever. That Is what gives them such great power, but also great responsibility. One of those responsibilities is making their message and theme clear to the audience. This is achieved in Dead Poets Society by the use of the Trickster and Scapegoat Archetypes though Mr.. Keating, as well as the Monmouth Archetype through Todd Anderson. The Archetype of the Trickster Is one of great Importance to both the characters of a film, and the risers.
The Trickster uses elements such as shock and humor to get his message across to the people around him. In the case of film this is to the audience of the picture, and the characters in it. This character is one that can bring humor and entertainment to a film, but most importantly it expresses one the greatest messages the film contains. Without the Trickster the audience would not receive the message in the same manner the characters do. Often when the characters of the film are shocked, the audience Is able to feel that emotion, and share In It.
If the same usage was being conveyed by the Benevolent Guide, then the message would have likely not been made clear, or relevant, to the audience. For the message to be made clear by this Archetype, the audience members would have to be going through the same trials as the characters, which is highly unlikely, making the Trickster a valued and important character in film. In Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams’ character John Keating Is the Trickster of the film. Keating takes the seemingly “cookie-cutter” prep school world and tries to rebel against It. Mom of the first scenes of the film are of classrooms with “normal” searchers teaching students. It is hard to distinguish one teacher from another in the collection of clips. Most are speaking in the same monotone voice, lecturing to their class from the textbook in their hands. Then we are shown Keating. Mr.. Keating breaks the rhythm of this orchestrated institution. He does not read directly from a textbook In the front of the classroom. In fact, one of the first things he does Is walk out of the classroom and begin speaking to the students In the hallway.
He brings them to a wall of pictures and shows them the similarities between the photographed boys and themselves. He then begins to speak to the boys about their similar fates, and how one day they will end up dead just like the boys in the pictures. This first experience with Mr.. Keating leaves the boys, and the audience, in a slight state of shock. He presents their world to them in a way that no other teacher what it stands for. Keating also shocks the students when he has them rip out the beginning of their poetry textbooks, which explains what poetry is and how you should rate it.
The students are reluctant to do so at first, possibly thinking that this is a trick. Slowly, though, one by one, they rip out the beginning pages. This is a large step for Keating and for the boys. It shows that Keating is beginning to get through to them, and they are beginning to trust him. Ripping up parts of textbooks goes against everything these boys have been taught their entire academic careers, and it shows great faith and influence on the part of Mr.. Keating, for them to do such a thing. This also demonstrates Settings relentlessness to break away from the society he and the students are in.
This denial of the books teachings is meant to symbolize the school’s teachings and it’s core values. He was once working within the system to achieve his oils, but now he is trying to change the system to meet his standards. Standards that are not agreed upon by those in charge of the school, and contradict the principles it was founded on. The Archetype of the Scapegoat seems to resolve the film. The Scapegoat is expelled from the society that they are in by either those in power, or he becomes so alienated that he leaves voluntarily. John Keating is the perfect example of this archetype as well.
Keating is not well liked by the school administrators. They do not practice his teaching styles, nor do they believe in them. The administrators of the school are the dads of the society that Keating placed himself in. By placing himself in the school’s society, he adopted it as his own. In most cases, this means he would accept their ideals and try to live his life by them. This would not allow for his adoption of the Scapegoat archetype, however. What keeps Keating from adopting the schools ideals as his own are his strong personal values, and his Trickster personality.
This personality allows him to get his message across to the boys. Keating does not believe in the conformist nature of the school. He does not want to teach the boys what to think, but rather how to think. He does not allow them to rate poetry on a graph as if it were a science experiment. Keating wants the boys to not be stuck in the footsteps of their fathers, Just as their fathers and grandfathers were. He wants them to break the mold of the school and do what they believe in and enjoy doing. This becomes extremely clear during his conversations with Neil. Neil confides in Mr..
Keating that he truly loves acting. He tells him that he wants to do it, even though his father does not approve. Keating pushes Neil to tell his father the truth. He pleads that it is Nil’s Job to help his father to see that it was his fife to live. Keating does not tell Neil to Just do as his father says, which is what the rest of the teachers would do. Neil lies to Keating and tells him that he told his father he was going to act in the play, and his father reluctantly approved. During this entire scene, Keating gives Neil the opportunity to come clean about lying.
He does not condemn Neil for not telling the truth, however, even though he could tell he was lying. This is something that every other teacher would have done. The scene was also shot from a very distinct angle, giving the allusion that Neil was owing to confession and begging for forgiveness. This allows us, as the audience, to know that Neil is conscious of the fact that what he is doing can be considered wrong, but it is still forgivable. Mr.. Keating acts almost as a Benevolent Guide in this scene, but slightly falls short.
To be considered a Benevolent Guide, Keating would have to lead Neil based on the rules of the society they are in. Keating, though existing with the rules around him, Just not use them in any way to help Neil. In fact, knowing that Neil is lying about telling his father, but allowing him to be in the play anyway is in direct elation of the standards set forth within the school. So, this denial of the societal rules around him is what is keeping Keating from being a Benevolent Guide in addition too Trickster. Keating becomes the Scapegoat in the end after the suicide of Neil.
When Nil’s father discovers that he is still in the play, he takes Neil home when it is over. Once home, he tells Neil that he is going to drop out of his private school and enroll in military school. This would extend Nil’s academic career, and abolish all hopes of becoming an actor. This is too much for Neil to handle, and that night he kills himself n his father’s study. His parents needed someone to blame, and they looked to the school for help. Keating was an outcast in the school society by every standard. He had different teaching styles, different beliefs, and different ways of interacting with students.
He pushed the boys to believe in themselves, and not Just to believe in what they were told. This caused him to be disconnected from the rest of the staff, his peers on the school society. These factors led to him being the perfect Scapegoat for Nil’s suicide. His different ideals and motivations became viewed as the fuel that pushed a student o far, and to his breaking point. What Nil’s parents failed to recognize was that it was not Mr.. Keating that was responsible for Nil’s unhappiness, it was they and their oppressive attitude.
Mr.. Keating only let Neil know there was a way out; he did not decide which door Neil should go through. As for the Monmouth, it is fulfilled by Todd Anderson. Todd is able to come full circle with a new appreciation on how he should live his life during this film. In the beginning he is Just like every other boy in the school. He does what is expected of him because that is Just the way things are. The boy is meant to go to school and hen do what his father does, or what his father expects of him, at least until he is on his own.
Through meeting Neil, and taking Mr.. Settings class, things being to change for Todd however. Suddenly he is looking at things in new and different ways. Things as basic as poetry can now be examined in new ways, which leads to his examination of more important things. This is held true all the way to Nil’s suicide. The suicide seems to hit all of the boys hard, but it devastates Todd the most. This is made clear when he breaks away from the other boys and runs toward the frozen lake in anguish and completely broken.
Todd knows why Neil killed himself; he could not take sacrificing his desires to fulfill his parents’ expectations. Todd also knows that Mr.. Keating did nothing wrong. Without going on his Journey, Todd would not have been able to gain this insight into the lives of the people around him. Toddy’s Journey is finally completed when he stands on the desk, as Mr.. Keating is about to walk out expulsion from school, but that no longer matters to him. He does not belong in this cookie-cutter society that he once fit into perfectly. His Journey gave him insight, and allowed him to transcend his former state of mind.