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Dead Poet's Society, Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard)

Site Rating: 70%
(ratings: 3)
Writeup Rating: 67%
(ratings: 3)
Film: Dead Poet's Society (1989)
Deceased Character: Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard)
Archetype: Goody (Major)
Killed with: Gun

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Written by Mr. Mouseburger 11th Mar 2007

Kindly submitted by ifihadlegs

Neil Perry is an aspiring actor at an independant American school in the 1950s. Under the tutelege of unorthodox new teacher, John Keating, Neil and a group of his friends are encouraged to start "thinking outside the box" and pursuing their dreams, by re-forming the Dead Poets Society, a society that Keating and his fellow students set up years earlier.

This proves fatal for Neil as his dictatorial father has firm views that Neil will be a doctor and forbids him from taking part in any extra-curricular drama activities, as his studies are suffering. This dictat quashes Neil's dreams of becoming an actor but in a show of defiance he takes part in a play anyway.

Neil's father finds out that his son is acting in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', and goes to the theatre to meet his son. Wordlessly, he takes Neil home and behind closed doors the pair have a massive row, the result of which is Neil being taken out of school and sent to military academy.

This proves to be the last straw for Neil and in a tastefully done suicide scene, Neil takes his father's handgun, stands shirtless in front of an open window in the middle of winter with a wreath on his head, and shoots himself (off camera).

3 categories : Shot, Suicide, Offscreen Killing

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Other Death Reviews for Dead Poet's Society (1989)

Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard)

Last Updated: 2nd Jun 2008
Number of views for this review since 30th May 2008: 28389
This review has 5 comments. Reply to the comments
Comment 1 by 'Mr. Briggs Inc.' (reply to this comment)
In this case, Carpe Diem is not exactly the best advice, something Mr. Keating truly seems to regret for the rest of the film. Is it really his fault in your opinion, or would Neal have done this anyway? Either way I'm glad we're getting over our slow week of updating.

And as you said in the last line of the writeup, wouldn't "Offscreen" apply?
Comment 2 by 'GuesssWho' (reply to this comment)
It was the fucking dad's fault, obviously. He squashed the last bit of hope the boy had, and it killed him.
Comment 3 by 'Grace' (reply to this comment)
You do have a point, Neil's suicide was MAINLY due to his father's overly controlling attitude toward him. However, if I were in Neil's place, I would not have killed myself. I understand that he felt trapped, and that children didn't talk back to their parents in the 1950s, but he was still a senior in high school, and he was a straight-A student. Didn't it ever occur to Neil, "Oh, you know it sucks that I have to go to military school for a year, but once I am in college, I don't really have to listen to my dad anymore, who gives a shit what he says, I don't have to be a doctor.I can be an actor still, he can't stop me once I'm an adult."
Neil also could have talked to his mother (who seemed pretty normal), and asked her to talk to his dad for him.
Nonetheless, I think that Neil committing suicide was a WEAK move! Yes, I felt bad for the kid, and he was also my favorite character in the movie, but I think he had a lot of more reasonable options than suicide.
Comment 4 by 'HumbleEnglishStudent' (reply to this comment)
Although I agree that Mr. Keating was faulty in his explanation of "carpe diem", I believe Neil's suicide was inevitable. It was his last "act" some may say. When he last speaks with his father and says that he feels "nothing", he means that he has nothing to say nor anything to live for. He almost smirks when he says it. He has discovered that he is truly trapped. His one act of passion on stage was still not good enough. was Neil's reasoning flawed? Yes, of course, but due to a domineering father, all he knew was the confines of a prep school and home full of verbal abuse. He found his way out. "Join hands if we may be friends." His last reach to a father that would never understand his son. Even though his father blames Keating for Neil's death, the viewer can rest assured that Mr. Perry will forever be punished, suffering eternally knowing that it was he that indirectly killed his own son.
Comment 5 by 'Bruno Costa' (reply to this comment)
Poor, Neil Perry. He shot himself. He's dead. :crying:

I think the late Robin Williams portrayed the English teacher John Keating and he did very well. I think Peter Weir directed very well. I'm so sorry about the late Robin Williams and he died suicide hanging by the rope. He was the genius.

RIP Robin Williams (1951-2014)