Character Review – Dead Poets Society Neil Perry 1. Neil Perry relationship with his father is one with a lack of communication and misunderstanding. Thought the film, Neil and his father are conflicted. We see this first when Mr. Perry tell Neil and he is no longer allowed to work for the school’s paper. His father is controlling, and strongly believes in tradition, and if he allowed Neil to work on the paper he would be going against his own parenting. I believe that the pressure and strict lifestyle that Mr. Perry has put on Neil is what lead him to his suicide.
Neil’s life within a classroom is far from a struggle. He is able to achieve straight A’s, and doesn’t question the teaching strategies Mr. Keating introduces to his English class. In fact, he welcomes them. Neil’s relationship with Mr. Keating allows him to embrace his fears. It is Mr. Keating that encourages Neil to talk to his father about acting in the play. 2. Neil is a tall, not very athletic looking young man and if he were to be placed into a stereotype, he would be depicted as a nerd. Neil wears his school uniform in a classic manner, which symbolizes his self-discipline as a student.
There is a certain awkwardness that comes with Neil’s character, and I think it has to do with that fact that he is trying to find himself. Neil is constantly conflicted with doing as he is told, or doing what he wants to do, and it awkwardly stuck in between the two. Neil’s tone of voice while talking to his peers is one of confidence. Whatever he says to them, he says without a hint of doubt. For example, during a meeting of the Dead Poet’s Society, Neil reads aloud his poem with poise. On the other hand, while Neil is talking to his father, he no longer speaks with confidence.
His tone becomes weak and vulnerable. On several occasions Neil tries to rebel against his father by standing up for himself, however, each time his father doesn’t allow it. Showing how controlled Neil is by his father, and how he tries to escape it. 3. Neil’s driving goal thought-out the film is to become an actor. He faces obstacles with his father along the way. We see Neil’s dedication to this play when he is willing to lie to his father, and head master—by doing so he is risking being expelled from Welton. Once his father finds out about Neil’s role in the play, he immediately restricts Neil from participating.
As an audience we feel as though Neil has given up, and he won’t be fighting against his father for this. This is where Mr. Keating has, I think, the biggest impact on Neil. In Mr. Keating office, Neil is told that by not standing up to his father, he is pretending to be someone else—he is acting for his father. This is the peak for Neil, where he realizes that at one point in his life, he is going to have to tell his father “no”. 4. To achieve his goal, Neil had to lie to his parents and Mr. Nolan the head mater at Welton.
During the scene where he decides to write a permission Todd, Neil’s roommate, tries to convince him that lying is not the best way to go. The passion for Neil’s acting it first demonstrated here, because he is clearly aware of the risks that lying can have. 5. Neil’s weakness’s all have to do with his father. When his father does not hold Neil back there is not much that he will let stop him. In fact, I think because of his father, Neil is encouraged to achieve more and push harder to become a better person on his own, as if to show his father that there is more than one path of life.
It’s only when Mr. Perry tells Neil that he cannot do something that Neil feels worthless. For example, on the night after the play, Neil and his parents are fighting, here, Mr. Perry tells Neil that is going to be a doctor, no argument. Neil is weakened by his father’s authority, and doesn’t stand up for himself once again. Unfortunately, this weakness got the better of him, and because of it, it lead to his suicide. 6. The greatest strength Neil has is his ability to lead his peers. He is the first one to question what the Dead Poet’s Society, the first to call Mr.
Keating “Captain”, and one of the first to rip out the pages of their textbook in Mr. Keating’s class. I believe that Neil can affectively lead a group because he knows what it’s like to be controlled (his father). As a leader Neil doesn’t force anyone to do anything, unlike his father. He takes his role as a leader, as a way for him to make his own choices, something it doesn’t normally get a chance to do. 7. Because Neil is an affective leader, he is able to help the rest of the characters grow as people. For example, when Knox is having troubles with Chris, Neil kindly offers him advice and encourages him to call her.
Also, on Todd’s birthday, when he received the same gift from his parents that he got last year, Neil helped Todd feel more confident by leading him outside of his personal box, and convincing him to throw the desk set his parents got him over the wall. Without Neil, there would be no Dead Poets Society, and I don’t think the boys would have grown as much as they did if Neil didn’t impact them. 8. A visual symbol that is associated with Neil is his crown from his role of Puck in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. 9.
The crown that Neil wears in his play, and during his suicide represents freedom. I think that when Neil is wearing it he is free. For example, while in the play, he is given the opportunity to become someone else for a short while. His father does not control him when he is acting, and he doesn’t have to do what he says. He can become whomever he wants while again. He is also free after his suicide. He is no longer under the control of his father, and he is at peace. 10. I believe that at the beginning of the film Neil understands that he will do whatever his father tells him to.
No part of him comprehends that he has the power to say “no” to his father. Then he meets Mr. Keating; he changes Neil’s life instantly. He shows Neil that it’s okay to be original, and it’s okay to see the world is a different way than his father. As the film moves on we see Neil begin to accept himself, and start to fall apart from his father. The peak of his character is when Neil auditions for the play without his father’s permission; it shows that Neil can make his own choices. However the consequences that were caused by that choice were extremely negative.
Although I don’t believe that Neil lying to his parents was the cause of his suicide, it was what caused his father to cross the line. As contradicting as it sounds, I think that Neil represents confidence and courage. Thought-out the film he struggles with his father, but in the end it was his confidence and courage that helped him succeed his goal of acting. It also took a lot of courage to decide and go though with his suicide. Neil played a large part in the development of all the characters in the film, and because of his lead they are all stronger and more confident people.