Here are your responses to the third question. Could Neil have found another
way out of his predicament? Was suicide his only answer? (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
Lucia: I don't think
it's the only way, but oviously it was the only one he figured out. For
my point of view he could make out his point over his father's and do what
he really was good at, "acting".
Jena: Of course
there were other ways out of his situation. I think Neil was just
too desperate to see them, and he was at the end of his rope, anyway. His
father was just too much to take for 18 years. (Could you have stood
a father like that if you had Neil's soul/passion for the romantic arts?)
I think maybe his mother was the key -- but he took after his mother, letting
himself be controlled by his father. She wouldn't have stood up to
him either, I'll bet, even if Neil had talked to her and begged her to
side with him.
Everytime I watch DPS I want it to end differently. There are so many other
things he could've done!
(1) He could've just run away to New York like Roweena in "Mr Holland's
(2) I wish he would've just talked to his father. When Mr. Perry said
"tell me what you feel", I wish he would've said something, anything other
(3) Why didn't he go to Keating again?! Keating probably would've been
able to get Neil and his father together to have an honest talk.
Ella: If Neil
could have been strong enough to talk it over with his dad, then that would
have been a way out. But, he wasn't and this was the only way for
Lauren: Suicide is a permanent
solution to a temporary problem. Neil could have requested that Mr. Keating
sit down with him and his parents to act as a mediator to explain Neil's
point of view. Neil could have told his parents, "I realize that you're
paying for me to go to school to become a doctor, but this is something
that I need to
do for myself."
scarney: "Suicide can never work.
You can't kill your soul, and that's where you feel the hurt." --
Cindy: Neil believed that killing himself
was the only way out of his situation, I know that that might sound stupid,
but if you are in a situation the solutions look different than they do
if you are not in that situation, if you take a different perspective on
the situation. This is where I always wished that Neil would have used
what he learned from Mr. Keating, and just looked at the situation from
a different perspective, but unfortuantely he did not.
Aixla: There's always a way
out. I am a student at a music school, and know other students who are
in similar positions and have found ways to persue their love for acting/music.
Once Neil was over 18, his parents can't force him to go to school to do
something he didn't want to do. They could (and probably would) cut him
off financially, but there are ways to put yourself through school, and
plenty of actors do this!
Adam: You never know what
the future holds for you. Sure he may of had to study at the other school
for a while. Despite how he felt he may of in the future been able to get
away. He was clever and made friends easily. He had a great support base
and would create others wherever he went.
Charlie: There were plenty of other
ways out. He could have told his father what he really felt when
his father said, "tell me what you feel" instead of saying nothing.
If he had of tried to get Mr. Keating to talk to him I don't think that
would have worked because his father already blamed Mr. Keating for Neil's
disobedience. I don't feel that even his mother could have helped.
Neil was the key to his father's turning around and he had his chance but
decided to take the easy way out.
certainly could have, but we must understand Neil's personality. Acting
was what made him feel alive, but he was an oppressed human being
since as long as he could remember, a 1959 school boy who was brought up
to obey his
father's every command. He wouldn't have seen any other way out. The
first couple of times I saw DPS, I thought he should have told his
father what he was feeling when he asked him, but would Mr. Perry have
understood anything? Wouldn't he have seen Neil's deepest emotions as absurd?
Charles: This is your
classic High School essay question. Answerable in two ways. Firstly a question
of logic. Neil was who he was, and committed suicide because of that. For
him to not commit suicide would be to deny the true nature of Neil's character
and existence. This renders itself an impossibility.
The second way is to rationalise
the motive of Neil killing himself, and what it indeed acheived. One motive
is control. Neil's father was always in control, and so long as he was,
Neil could never be happy. For Neil to commit suicide was his only available
means of regaining control of his own existence. The other significance
of Neil's suicide is his fullfillment of the prophecy of Thoreau. He, more
than most others in the Dead Poet's Society took on the mantle of sucking
the Marrow out of life. He furthermore desired to "put to route all that
was not life, and not when I come to die discover that I had not lived".
For him to merely exist and do his father's bidding would be to spend 10
years existing, and forget any time when indeed he did live. By taking
his own life when he did, he died in control, and having lived his dream,
if only for a moment. Whilst he could have done some more sucking, he did
indeed suck the marrow out of
life. Suicide was his only means of doing so.
Neil: The wording of the question
is slightly wrong here. Obviously suicide was his only answer, otherwise
he wouldn't have done it. He wasn't as rational as Todd but if he could
have seen any way to living as he wanted to do, I think that he would have
taken it. People always say that something can always be done but in his
case it wasn't desirable and would have killed him in a different way to
live it through.
anonymous: I think that this solution
was the last that he should think and further more he achieved nothing
with that. First of all he could talk to his father about what he feels
for acting and for the inside power that led him to these actions. Even
if he couldn't do that, he could take with him Mr. Keating as a support
so as to express his feelings openly.
Windblsm@Aol.com: Neil had
the chance to speak to his father, but he did not. If I could be in Neil's
shoes I would have said "Father you are not understanding me. I am not
you and will never be you. You want me to be a doctor but that is not a
calling for me. I found acting to be my calling and I want to be an actor.
You saw all those people applauding me. You saw how good I was. If you
can still believe acting is a whim, then it can be to you. But I will not
come to your demand. Don't you think that Mr. Keating put me up to this,
sure he inspired me but, I chose acting by myself. After 18 years of you
running my life I have had it up to here. I have lived my life the way
you wanted me to for this long now I am going to live my life the way I
want to and you can't stop me. I have been acting for you these past years
18 years, if you think that I am acting now that is where you are wrong."
Suicide would have come after if Neil's father did not stand down, Todd
and the other boys understood that Neil committed suicide but Todd was
the only one who understood that Neil's father had accually killed the
Actor, Student, and Dead Poet, Neil Perry.
Amy: Sure Neil could have found another
way out, and it's easy for an outsider to think that, but to Neil suicide
was his only way to live the life he wanted. Yes he could have spoken up
to his father or gone to Mr. Keating for help, but would it really have
worked? I don't think Neil's father would have changed his opinion
of allowing his son to act. I think Neil felt that he had tasted
the best there was in life by starring in A Midsummer Night's Dream and
he wanted to end his life feeling good about himself and his accomplishments.
Who doesn't want to die happy? Neil had his moment in the spotlight,
and that's all he wanted.
N. B. Turfrey: The wording
of the question is slightly wrong here. Obviously suicide was his only
answer, otherwise he wouldn't have done it. He wasn't as rational as Todd
but if he could have seen any way to living as he wanted to do, I think
that he would have taken it. People always say that something can always
be done but in his case it wasn't desirable and would have killed him in
a different way to live it through.
Katie: Suicide was indeed the only
answer for Neil, who was torn between foresaking his family and sacrificing
his own personal dreams. Having realized that his true calling in life
was for the stage, he knew that to tell his father this would be a disgrace
for the family and would certainly not be tolerated. On the other hand,
allowing his future to be decided by his controling parents would betray
himself and lead him to a future that he had no interest in, a fate which
would be especially painful now that Mr. Keating had led him to discover
his true happiness in acting and taught him the importance of using your
life for something great.
Kristian: He could have said to his
father the he wanted to be an actor and not a doctor.
Clara, Didem, Jullian, Yuko: No, he
showed that he could not find another way out of his predicament by committing
suicide. He was in the middle of two strong influences, so it made it difficult
to find another way out of his predicament. He had different options to
solve the problem but he committed suicide in his father's room with his
father's gun to show that he was rebelling against his father's control.
Alfia and Amy: Neil could find other
ways out of his predicament. And Suicide is not the only answer for him.
He can compromise with his father. Instead of insisting on acting only,
he can still study medical at the same time. In addition, he needs to keep
on showing his eagerness for acting and also be a good student in medicine.
However, if he fails in being a good student in medicine at least he had
tried to be and his father can see his effort. And about the suicide, All
we can say is When There is life, there is hope. And all he has to do is
spend time communicating with his parents little by little. Maybe his parents
didn't understand him well, they still love him though.
Anchi: Of course there could have been
lots of ways out. Suicide is only for losers. Neil was still
young and full of energy. He could have waited until he grew up to
take control of his own life. He could have talked to his mom, who
seemed more negotiable than his stern father. He could have also
turned to his father's friends for help. They might have been more
persuasive to his father because they belonged to the same generation.
Finally, parents would always give in to their children, especially when
Neil was the only son of the family. Neil could have kept telling
his dad how he loved acting and to explore the world in his own immature
but unique way until his dad agreed. If he had kept on talking to
his father, the latter would have understood his son had grown up and would
like to be responsible for his own life. He'd understand because
he had been there himself.
Jason Harris: With the
customs and traditions of the times it would have been much harder than
now. Now I would say he could just run away, but back then that wasn't
as wise of a decision. The parents had a the control back then no matter
what. Today the children can fight every decision thier parents make. So
yes there were other ways, but not in his situation.
Cynthia, William, JunHo: We think Neil
could find another way to solve the problem between he and his father.
He should bravely face to his father and try communicate with his father
to fighting for his future. If he has courage the kill himself, then he
should have courage to assert that his prospect is not being a
doctor but an actor.
Sylvia: Was suicide the only way out?
It shouldn't have been. But once his father put him in the car I'm not
sure what could have been done to save him. The chances to help him
came, and went, much earlier. I guess the movie is cruelly realistic
about what's likely to happen to vulnerable kids like Neil in modern secular
society. 1. they don't want money and power, the whole yuppy thing
but 2. the only alternative (equally secular and self-focused) is deeply
flawed and will let them down. Mr Perry and Mr Nolan don't
have what Neil needs, but neither do the 19th century romantic poets.
Incidentally, I've read what other people have said to this question
and they've made me wonder whether - besides inspiring careers in literature,
English teaching and film-making - DPS itself may not have been implicated
in a few real-life suicides. Just a thought. Anyone know whether
this has happened?
Class of 99 Alberton , South Africa:
I think to Neil it was the only solution, he had little time to change
his bigamists father's mind. He would have to leave his friends and Mr
K. He obviously had lived a sheltered life and could not take major change.
I don't know if he really meant to kill himself or just to get his parents
recognition or love. Either way there were probably other ways out
but he could not think of them.
Du Toit Albertus: He
could see no reason for living with within his dad's grasp, and no way
out of it in the foreseeable future. He took the wrong decision,
but for him it must have been very bad to continue living. It's tragic
that death seemed the better idea. IMHO - Neil didn't grasp the full meaning
THE MARROW FROM LIFE" He thought it was all of nothing.