What are the main conflicts of the storyof "Dead Poet's Society"?

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

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The most basic conflict that is evident in the narrative is the collision between individual will and social conformity.  Mr. Keating presents this very idea to the boys in a variety of ways.  Through both his methodology and his content instruction, he is seeking to bring out this conflict within the boys, something that he hopes they will be able to resolve themselves.  The idea of "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" is an example of how there is a fundamental conflict presented between the will of the individual and the social reality that governs all of them.  In this, the conflicts grow to envelop the students.  Charlie faces a conflict between his writing and ideas and the administration at Welton that are not receptive to what he is suggesting.  Knox endures the conflict between the rules that forbid him dating and his apparent love for Chris.  Neil's conflict exists between his desire for acting and his father's wishes for him that lie outside this realm.  Todd struggles with his own internal conflict of seeking to be his own person, apart from the expectations placed on him by his parents, and the idea of how he needs to assert his own identity in support of Mr. Keating at the end of the film.  In these settings, the main conflict of individual versus society is evident in different forms.


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