Have you ever read a book that makes you question things in a way that leads to a complete transformation in your perspective about life and people? You can’t help but wonder how life would’ve been if you hadn’t read that book. And Dead Poets Society is a book that’ll leave an impression like this upon you! It is inspiring, stirring, extremely emotional, and emboldening. A masterpiece indeed!
This book is the novelization of the sensational movie with the same name, Dead Poets Society. It is an easy and short read; an interesting story with a great message. However, the book was challenged (but retained) soon after it was published because some individuals found it ‘disturbing’. It is strongly recommended to watch the film if you read the book.
So, the story revolves around the lives of a few boys, Todd Anderson and his companions, at Welton Academy where they encounter their new English professor, the exuberant John Keating, who challenges them to make their lives exceptional and let their passions run wild. The boys, inspired by the rosy outlook of Keating, revive a secret club – Dead Poets Society where, free from the restrictions and obligations imposed on them, pursue their passions and embrace the journey called life. In Thoreau’s words, quoted by Keating, they cherish the longing to “suck out all the marrow of life”. Keating helps them discover the beauty of language and learn the importance of poetry in today’s world. “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for”, he articulates.
However, the members of the resurrected Dead Poets Society shortly apprehend that this new-found freedom of theirs has come with heart-rending outcomes. So yes, the book ends on an upsetting yet awakening note.
Now, the book leaves us with questions about the ways and means of teaching that are currently in effect. Questions about dreams, passions, aspirations, and desires, that make us feel enlivening. Are the flamboyant teaching methods of Keating, entirely different from the conventional approach that is followed, bring any difference to the experiences of students in institutions? Are we even ready to welcome such changes?