In the Dead Poets Society1 the main character, Neil Perry, is pushed to the edge by the fact he isn’t free and feels the only way out is through death. His parents force him into his father’s footsteps, trying to make him follow tradition, to follow a path he would do anything to get off. He tries to escape through acting, to use the plays words to talk to his father and try to make him see, but it doesn’t work. For Neil the only way out he can see is a gun to the head. Neil’s parents try to mould Neil into what they wanted to be, what they failed at. But by doing this they didn’t just fail themselves, they failed Neil too. No one wants to be a mirror image of their parents. They would only be re-living their parents’ life, so why live? Would this just bring anger for never separating from your parents or just an understanding of their life?
“Tonight I saw myself in the dark window as The image of my father, whose life Was spent like this, Thinking of death, to the exclusion Of other sensual matters, so in the end that life Was easy to give up, since It contained nothing” Mirror Image, Louise Gck It obviously scares some people that they may turn out just like their parents. I wouldn’t want to turn out as mine. So they may have good lives but I want to learn things for myself and have my own experiences.
Phillip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse” opening line is “They fuck you up, your mum and dad” and in a way it is true, “They may not mean to, but they do”. He’s right, parents often try to do what’s best for their children but often don’t realise what the children are feeing or want. I guess from own experiences that I agree that parents do “fuck you up”. My dad left when I was two, a day after my sister’s fifth birthday. I feel he let me down; he doesn’t ring, write or hardly ever see me. He’s not interested. This has affected me a lot. I see people hugging their father and I wish it was me. I want to know a Christmas where my whole family is there. This is the opposite from Neil’s overacting father, mine doesn’t act at all. Children need a balance between the two a father or parents who are interested but not so much to try and run your life for you. I believe that parents have a lot to do with how you turn out and what you’re like.
Parents probably have the hardest job in the world due to the fact they’re making and almost running someone else’s life. The pressure of messing it all up must be extreme. I don’t think that there is a parent somewhere in the world that doesn’t sometimes feel that they’ve made some mistake in the way they’ve brought their children up. Everyone must feel that they could have done something better. In the Dead Poets Society Neil’s parents thought that they were doing the best thing for Neil. But they were really only driving him further away from them, further into darkness, despair and suicide. Neil feels trapped by his father’s presence and commands.
Even when Neil died it looked as if he had died in a cage of his father’s possessions. Neil’s father wants Neil to do what he did, follow in his footsteps and follow the tradition. The whole school echoes with tradition, the old photos beside the new photos, the traditional way of teaching, the services, even one of the school’s four pillars is Tradition. There is no escape from it, Neil notices this and finds his escape through death.
In Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein2, Frankenstein breaks tradition by creating his monster. He creates life, which in turn creates pain. He realises this and destroys the one thing that keeps the monster happy, its fellow monster. He angers the monster and pushes it to hatred and revenge. He is just another parent doing a bad job. He’s being selfish to benefit himself. Why do parents often drive their own children away by their mistakes? Why do parents try to correct their mistakes through their children’s lives? Alanis Morissette’s song Perfect is all about parents trying to re-live their youth through their child’s.