Which boys best represent "carpe diem" in "Dead Poet's Society"?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To a great extent, all of the boys that "bought in" to what Mr. Keating had been teaching represented the spirit of "carpe diem" because he represented it in what he did and how he did it.  Certainly, Neil's pursuit of acting embodies the spirit of "carpe diem."  He understands the dissatisfaction that his father has towards what he wants to do, and yet Neil does it anyway.  One could even argue that Neil's suicide is an example of "carpe diem" because he seeks to "seize" the moment where his love of acting is at its highest and in it, a direct refusal to put it aside in the name of his father's wishes.  In a less gravitational light, Knox uses the notion of "carpe diem" to "woo women."  His use of poetry is one in which he is able to emotionally "seize" something and is also seen in how he reads his poem aloud in class, full of emotion that revels in the moment.  Todd's actions at the end of the film represent "Carpe Diem" because they seize the moment without consequence.  Todd realizes that Mr. Keating is gone, the boys are safe, the scapegoat has been found.  Yet, he feels compelled to tell Mr. Keating the truth and seize the mantle of leadership in climbing on his desk calling, "O Captain, My Captain."  Todd's moment that is seized is the very lesson of "seize the day" that Mr. Keating had been seeking to impart in him throughout the narrative.


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