The Relationship of Authorities and Individuality in Dead Poets Society and Lord of the Flies

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Contradicting values and beliefs between the dismissive authority and the individual catalyses an undemocratic relationship manifesting tension and inevitably provoking insurgence. Contrastingly, a supportive relationship between a respected authority and the individual will inspire individuality, positively impacting an individuals life as a result of the influence of free-thinking and creativity. The intricacies of the power-dynamics are depicted through Peter Weir’s film, Dead Poets Society and William Goulding’s novel, Lord of the Flies, exhibiting the divergent and comparable principles and ideologies between the authorities and individuals through the influence of their relationships. Therefore, it is to a significant extent that the morals each party regards determine the quality of the relationship, corresponding to the utilization of power.

The influence of authority can have the power to inspire individuals resulting in positive guidance and independence, however, a repressive authoritarian body exploits individuals while compelling superficial values that are ineffective in encouraging supportive relationships resulting in repressed individuality and instigating acts of rebellion. Dead Poets Society follows a group of young boys who learn to find maturity and independence throughout their schooling life, in an oppressive institution influenced by a multitude of conformist authoritative figures until they experience Mr Keating’s unorthodox style of teaching. The hierarchical constitution of authority is emphasised the high-angle shot of Mr Perry reprimanding Neil due to his conflicting opinion on the subject of dropping his extra-curriculars, therefore connoting Mr Perry’s domineering dictatorial role in the suppression of Neils desires and stripping away his individuality demonstrated through his acquiescent response of “yes, sir”. Furthermore, tensions and violent consequences of abusive power results from deviating against the expectations of the conformist institution exhibited through the use of a low-angle, close-up of Charlie’s expression as he “assume(s) the position” elucidating the unreasonable constraint to conform to unjust societal values through the depiction of abuse of power. The inability to express freedom and independence culminates conflict, portrayed through the use of lighting, illuminating Mr Perry’s in a sinister manner during the argument between his and Neils contradicting values, highlighting the outcomes when caught resisting the predominant authority. Conversely, influential authoritative control that promotes individualism while simultaneously developing meaningful relations emanates in the development of an individual, having the capacity to inspire, elucidated through the mise en scene of Mr Keating’s students quoting “O Captian, My Captain”, revealing the harmonious relationship resulting in the evolution of personal growth. Therefore, the complexities between the authority and the individual can exert significant influence on an individuals life, due to their overbearing power and additionally, provide guidance and inspiration.

A symbiotic relationship between authorities and the individuals result in a civilised society with regulations due to successful authoritarian leadership where the individual and authority share the same ideologies. In contrast, acts against the authoritative figure and respected morals results in the breakdown of structural development causing dysfunctional individuals. The innate nature of human capability to attempt to form civilisation is depicted through the William Goulding’s 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies, demonstrating the conflict between the two challenging impulses: the desire to live by rules or the instinct to gratify one’s desires through the development of a group of young boys on an island. Mutuality of power evolves when the individual and authority agree on the same principles desiring the need for civilisation which is depicted through the symbolic allegory of the conch describing it as “most obscure(ly), yet most powerful(ly)”, confirming its political representation in representing structure and comfort giving power and authority to the individual that holds it. The complexities of the contradicting power dynamic between the authority and the individual are notable when one party assumes dominance over the other, developing tensions due to the different values each party holds. The autocratic and dictatorial role of the opposing individual has exemplified through Jacks remarks, “bollocks to the rules! If there’s a beast we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat” foreshadowing his lust for power and submission of violence, initiating his rivalry hunters group that opposes the civility of Ralphs new developed society. A sense of equality and representative power is connoted when authority and the individual recognise each other’s worth defining the relationship between the alliance as valued and memorable. The recognition is revealed through the personification of Ralphs emotional breakdown, “for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body” conveying his agony and distress felt during the aftermath of the deaths of his fellow companions, comparable to the death of Neil Perry is Dead Poets Society, embodying how the demise of closely acquainted individuals results in honour and approbation after their demise. The common instinct to place appointed power in an individual is highlighted through the Gouldings use of truncated dialogue “There aren’t any grown-ups. We have to look after ourselves” emphasising the respected shared beliefs within the small faction civilisation thus resulting in the self-imposed authority. Correspondingly, Neil is represented as the leader of the rebellious club through his commencement of the meetings by reading Ulysses which symbolises adventure and a “life worth living”, which are the shared values of the Welton students. Hence, the inherent need for order and structure is depicted through the values and actions carried out by individuals through the construction of civilisation where successful leadership results in valued relationships.

Ultimately, the strict nature of the tyrannical authority opposing the individual’s beliefs results in their ability to resist authority constraints and express personal values through means of rebellion, inevitably generating a conflicting and tense environment rather than encouraging positive relationships through inspiration and the guidance of self-discovery. Dead Poets Society and Lord of the Flies reinforces the contingency for revolution through the representation of the conflict when principles are no longer respected and the abuse of power is exerted through potentially harmful activities.    


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