Dead Poets Society Anticipation Guide

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1 Name: Period: Date: Dead Poets Society Anticipation Guide Identify the above words. Use a dictionary to find the actual definition, but write the definition in your own words around the above chart. KEATING: "O Captain! My Captain!" Who knows where that comes from? Anybody. Not a clue? It's from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now, this class, you can either call me Mr. Keating, or, if you're slightly more daring, "O Captain! My Captain." Now let me dispel a few rumors, so they don't fester into facts. Yes, I, too, attended Hellton and have survived. And no, at that time, I was not the mental giant you see before you. I was the intellectual equivalent of a ninety- eight-pound weakling. I would go to the beach, and people would kick copies of Byron in my face. Think of a time when a teacher made an impression on you. It could be a positive or a negative impression. Describe the incident in detail, but leave the teacher s name blank or call them Mr. M or Mrs. M. This should be at least 5-7 sentences (fill in the space provided). English III

2 O Captain My Captain a poem by Walt Whitman O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up--for you the flag is flung for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths for you the shores a-crowding, For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; Here Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head! It is some dream that on the deck, You've fallen cold and dead. My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; Exult O shores, and ring O bells! But I, with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. Circle all the Captain s. Now, write above each one of the Abraham Lincoln and read the poem again. Does the poem have a positive or negative tone toward Lincoln? List some words that reveal the tone. What event about Lincoln does this poem relate? What line tells you this? Identify one line that is repeated other than my captain What is the extended metaphor in this poem? (hint: Abe Lincoln is a Captain is part of the metaphor)

3 Film Study: Dead Poets Society Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir, was released in The action of the film takes place in the late 1950s, at a boarding school called Welton Academy that was founded in 1859, the era of Emerson, Whitman, and the buildup to the American Civil War. Below is a list of major characters; as you watch, note any observations about behavior, perspectives, values, etc. Many of the characters look alike, so pay attention! Mr. John Keating (Robin Williams) Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles) Charlie Dalton (Gale Hansen) Richard Cameron (Dylan Kussman) Steven Meeks (Allelon Ruggiero) Gerard Pitts (James Waterston) Dean Nolan (Norman Lloyd) Mr. McAllister (Leon Pownall) Mr. Perry (Kurtwood Smith) Another thing to keep in mind is cinematography. Here is a brief overview of some basic camera shots. See if you can identify these techniques within the film and discuss the significance of each effect. Low, High, and Tilt: these terms refer to the angle at which the camera is pointed at the subject. A low shot

4 might give the impression of a child s view, whereas a high shot might symbolize superiority. Dissolve, Wipe, Fade In, Fade Out: methods of transition between sequences, scenes, or blank screens. Close-Up, Medium Shot, Full Shot: a medium shot refers to a situation in which the subject and setting take up roughly equal parts of the frame. Close-ups and full shots are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Pan: a panoramic movement of the camera maintaining a stationary base (as opposed to a tracking shot, in which the camera base moves) Consider that the literary aspects of books characterization, conflict, climax, theme, etc. are often the same features that make films come to life. Make a list of significant topics or themes as you watch. Movie Review Assignment At the end of the week, you will write a brief movie review. Think of the review as a piece of literary analysis. Approach your assessment of the movie as you would that of a novel or short story discuss the themes, characterization, etc. Use the notes you ve taken on this guide to help you along. Your review should be about one or two well-organized paragraphs, which will count as a classwork grade.(20 points) Questions to Guide Your Viewing: 1. What are the four pillars of the school? How do the boys revise these pillars? 2. Explain Todd s reluctance to join the Dead Poets Society. How does Neil help? 3. How does each meeting of the society begin? 4. Do the boys hold true to the original society from Keating s day? Explain your response.

5 5. How does Mr. Keating respond to one slack student s poem? 6. What effect does Keating s teaching have on Knox? 7. How does Charlie illustrate the point of the courtyard activity? 8. How does the presence of girls affect the society? 9. How do the boys react to Charlie s newspaper stunt? What is the result? Respond to Charlie s attitude. 10. What is the dean s teaching advice for Mr. Keating? 11. How does Keating respond to Charlie s stunt? 12. Describe the interaction between Neil and his father. Compare to that between Neil and Keating. 13. What does the society inspire Knox to do? 14. How does Neil embody the transition from Romanticism to Realism? 15. Is Todd s reaction to Neil s act out of character? Explain. Compare to Keating s and Dean Nolan s.

6 16. Do you agree with Cameron about the responsibility? Explain your answer. 17. Do you find the final scene heroic, disappointing, Romantic, Realistic, or something else? Explain. After Viewing questions: 1. What are the attributes of Mr. Keating? 2. Which character is the most undaunted by the school? 3. Which character has the most charisma? 4. How is Mr. Keating s teaching style unorthodox? 5. Describe one character s zeal for something. 6. Explain how the students conform and don t conform to the standards at the school. 7. Which characters would you consider romantics? 8. Which characters would you consider realists?

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