Here are your responses to the second question. Why exactly did Neil choose
to end his life? (NOTE: Most of the people who sent responses did
not mention if they wanted their email addresses displayed. To be safe,
I assumed they did not. However, if you would like your email shown with
your response, please
When Neil started acting, he felt he had found his calling. His father
refused to allow Neil to follow his desire to act. The father
had Neil's life all mapped out for him with no room for anything else.
Neil was trapped and he felt the life his father had planned for him was
not worth living.
Jay: Neil was frustrated
and stressed and felt misunderstood. His suicide could have been an act
of spite against his father, as if to say "this is one thing you can't
make me quit". Or it could have been a catharsis for the demons created
by the bleak prospects that his father had created, rather than stopped.
Ironically, Neil killed himself because he, like me and a lot of other
teenagers who feel restricted, wanted to live.
Rachael: I believe
that Neil committed suicide because the creed of the DPS was to live life
to the fullest, Carpe Diem, and when he realized that he hadn't and was
letting other people live his life he couldn't handle that.
If Neil would've killed himself down the road, which I believe would have
been the case, he would've done it for different reasons. Keating
introduced him to the ideology of, "To live deep...and not when I had come
to die, discover that I had not yet lived." He took his life because
he realized that it was better to die after living, then to die after a
long life of unhappiness. There is a certain dignity to that, that
is the embodiment of "Carpe Diem."
took his life because he was at a dead end. After he played Puck
in the school play, he was in his glory, doing exactly what he wanted to
do. But his controlling father wanted to thwart Neil's aspirations and
dreams by forcing him to go to medical school. He saw no way out,
of course it was the 1950s and he couldn't blatantly disobey his father
to such a high degree. He was, afterall, from an affluential home
and image was important. Mr. Perry would never have his son be an actor--unheard
of! Neil saw he had no options, and in reality I don't think he did.
I imagine I would've felt helpless and very much out of control of my own
life. He had no say in any decisions. Honestly I don't believe
Neil would've taken his life if he had never met Mr. Keating, but this
is not necessarily a good thing. On the contrary. Mr. Keating
supported Neil as a father should support a son...to pursue his ambitions
and dreams. If Mr. Keating hadn't been in Neil's life, then I don't
think Neil would've even been in the play. Mr. Keating just served
as a fire under Neil's rear; he encouraged his fancies. And he bought
out Neil's spirit and helped to bring Neil's dreams to realization, if
even for a brief night that ended up tragically.
Entrapment. Neil realized that down the path he was being forced
down he could never think or do things for himself. Anything that
meant anything to him was trampled by his father. Death was his only escape.
Lucia: He felt it
was the only way to be free.
Anonymous: Neil killed
himself because he had tasted what it was to live, and because when his
father said to him, "What do you feel? Tell me what you feel?"
he both realized that his father would never understand and that he was
not able to speak the truth. I think if he had only fought back instead
of freezing up and saying, "nothing, nothing," his life would have been
confusing and he might have despaired, but he would not have killed himself.
Realizing that he didn't have the character and courage to stand up to
his father, and not anticipating finding it soon, he could not stand the
thought of living that was not really living. He believed in the
sacredness of life communicated to him by Mr. Keating, and he chose to
"live free or die." What a tragedy.
killed himself because he felt trapped. His father, as we see, was
very militant, and everything was his way or no way. The only way
to get out of feeling trapped in a situation like that is to try to logically
convince the father that there are different ways to look at it (which
Mr. Perry would probably have viewed as the "wrong view for his son"),
or to sever most bonds with his family -- which Neil couldn't do because
it would have gone totally against his character ("the dutiful son"). Besides,
when you feel trapped, you get desperate. If you don't think anyone's
going to listen, you take drastic measures.
Neil killed himself because he'd achieved his dream; he was able to really
live by being in the play. I think when he delivers Puck's final monologue,
he was really talking to his father. It was as if the whole experience
with the dead poets and the play was one big great dream and then he had
to wake up to the "real world". Once he'd tasted what freedom really was,
he couldn't go back to his father's prison.
knew that he could never be happy like this and he wasn't strong enough
to talk it over with his dad. For him, it was the only way out.
Neil commited suicide because he was a Romantic person. The most important
thing for a Romantic are his feelings. When a Romantic can't follow his
feelings, the world has no meaning anylonger. I guess that's why Neil killed
himself. About Todd, I guess he is more a realist. Not that he isn't
romantic, but he found the right way to handle with it. Maybe that's
the meaning of the movie: Be Romantic, but don't be to romantic...
Cindy: I believe that Neil took his
own life because he knew that he could never get his father to understand
just how much he really enjoyed acting. Neil's father had a picture of
Neil's future and anything that did not fit into that picture was not going
to happen no matter how much Neil wanted it to. Neil could not find the
courage to speak out against his father, but in all actuality "actions
speak louder than words".
Charlie: Neil ended his life because
he could not stand up to his father. Toward the end when his father
tells Neil that he is withdrawing him from Welton, Neil almost stands up
to him; however doesn't. Foreseeing no other way other than suicide,
Neil followed through with it. He let the madman at the window in
the puzzle in, hoping that by letting him in, rather than the madman breaking
in that everything would be ok. I think that he knew they wouldn't.
That is why he showed a lack of fear.
Because he couldn't live his own life. He was trapped in some "perfect"
life his father had fabricated for him, where he could never be free. His
misery was so extreme that he saw no other way out.
Charles: One of the
key elements to Neil's suicide, and indeed any suicide, was an inability
to see beyond the problem that he was facing. When Neil's father describes
his career path, Neil exclaims "That's 10 years". Taken in perspective,
this is more than half of his life to date. For Neil, who has for the first
time experienced the thrill of his calling, to have to wait such a tangibly
long period of time to experience it again represents an insurmountable
problem, the other side of which is beyond his comprehension. The final
decision that Neil makes in his life is reconciled to some extent by the
words of Thoreau, who states the intention to "put to route all that was
not life, and not when I come to die discover that I had not lived". For
Neil, to spend 10 years denying his dream would be 10 years denying his
the opportunity to "suck the marrow out of life". Indeed, he chose to end
his life when he had lived, and not to live a false life so long that he
could not remember living. In the words of Kipling, he "filled the unforgiving
minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run", choosing to define his
own unforgiving minute. Finally, Neil's father was always in control, and
eventually denied him the opportunity to acheive the dream he had set for
himself. By killing himself, Neil was for the first time in control
of his own existence, his relationship with his father and his future.
He was able to die having experienced the feeling of his dream, and at
the same time permanently deny his father the opportunity of experiencing
the dream he had constructed vicariously through Neil.
Tamsen: Neil took his own life because
of his father. Neil basically did everything that his father told
him to do. Even though he tried telling his father what he wanted,
it didn't work. After Neil killed himself, his father finally realized
how stupid and wrong he was by telling Neil what he could and could not
do. Neil had it all going for him. He was having so much fun
doing "A Midsummers Night Dream", and the Newspaper. He was doing
the things that he enjoyed, not what his father enjoyed. I think
he could've gone far if it wasn't for his father running his life!
No person should have to go through that kind of treatment that the father
Sharon: Neil took his life because
he wanted to "quit while he's ahead." His lines "I was good." show that
he acknowledged that he had had as much of his life as his father was ever
going to let him have, so he ended it there.
Neil: Neil took his own life,
because although he has suffered unhappiness, that was nothing as compared
to tasting paradise and then having the gates of Hell opened for the devil
to drag you in. The loss of his friends on top of the total lack of understanding
by his father and mother (who was also ruled and failed to support her
son) left him totally empty. There was nothing left. He knew what he wanted
and that was not to become a medic, and so there was only one way out.
Liza: Neil killed himself because he
didn't have the courage to pursue what he wanted to do.
Amy: I think Neil took his own life
because at that moment in time he saw no other way out. I don't think
he took his life because he was a coward or because he was taking the easy
way out. I think it was because he was at both the highest (fulfilling
his acting dream) and lowest (being put down by his father once again)
point of his life that he felt he had no other alternative.
N. B. Turfrey: Neil took
his own life, because although he has suffered unhappiness, that was nothing
as compared to tasting paradise and then having the gates of Hell opened
for the devil to drag you in. The loss of his friends on top of the total
lack of understanding by his father and mother (who was also
ruled and failed to support her son) left him totally empty. There
was nothing left. He knew what he wanted and that was not to become a medic,
and so there was only one way out.
Katie: Neil took his own life because
he knew that he could never be free. He had discovered his calling
to happiness in life, but it was a path that he could never pursue. Death,
and the freedom that it offered, seemed better to Neil than a life lived
in despair for what he could have been.
Sonia: He seized the day. He had tasted
the berries of freedom and success before he chose to die, and after the
"nothing, nothing", he had smiled. A smile of knowing that he has done
what he intended. He's found his purpose in life and thought it reasonable
to end it there and then with its fond memories.
kldelaney: I know that feeling of being
in a prison that only death can free you from. The point to remeber is
that Neil was already dying. He was already dead. His soul was drowning
in a world without love, the look on his face when he was with Keating
and when he was on stage just after the show was when for the first time
something had pulled him up to the surface. The look that he had on his
face after the show, was him taking a breath of the air that had been so
cruelly denied him. The look he had on his face when he was with Keating
was one of total desperation of a young boy suddenly waking up from a nightmare
to find an angel, who was giving him the wings to fly with and arms to
feel safe in. I think it hurt more to lie to Keating for him then it was
to face his father. He also had a family around him that was true for the
first time. He is a horrific example of what a parent's cruel sense of
coldness can do to a young soul. Also what can happen when dreams
do not come true.
Sylvia: Why does Neil kill himself?
Despair (he can't see beyond the immediate future - he can't look ahead
twenty years and see maybe his father dead and
himself chucking med and working his way through drama school).
Anger at his father. As I said above, I also wonder whether he feels
betrayed by Keating. His Captain DIDN'T step in to save him.
Self-pity, too. In case anyone thinks I'm too hard on him, I think
he doesn't fully grasp the finality of death. The whole "preparation
for death" sequence is very theatrical. Who's he performing for?
Does he even realize that the people he'll hurt most by his death will
be his friends and his teacher? How many of you have read the Walt Whitman
poem, Captain my Captain? The Americans probably know it by heart but not
necessarily anyone else. It's the elegy for Abraham Lincoln who was
assassinated (shot) after the end of the Civil War. Kind of ironic,
isn't it, that it isn't Keating, the captain, who dies for the Cause -
it's his "soldier", Neil.
Class of 99 Alberton , South Africa:
Neil felt there was no way out, he could not live his life how he wanted.
He was trapped in his father's life, the one his father could not have.
His inability to express himself was bottled up and finally he could not
live his life unless it was to the fullest. With how it was going he would
never realise his dreams; therefore he had no reason to live.