Carpe Diem

Alex Rohret Mrs. Oxley English 1302 22 February 2013 The Light and Dark Sides of the Force The first time I heard the phrase Carpe Diem, I wasn’t sure what to think. First of all, I had never heard either of the words used in the phrase. Secondly, after repeating the words in my head a few times to see if I was getting them mixed up with some other words that are actually in the English Language. I later came to figure out that these words weren’t in the English Language at all; they’re in the dead language of Latin. This phrase’s literal translation in English is “Seize the Day. There are a number of similar phrases that are popular today that might be easier to understand. The most recent, and possibly more popular, is Yolo, meaning You Only Live Once. These two phrase’s purpose is to tell people to live each day like it’s their last. Robert Herrick’s Poem; To the Virgins to Make Much of Time, is a perfect way to tell others how to live each day to the fullest when he says “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old time is still a-flying : And this same flower that smiles to-day To-morrow will be dying. This is the first stanza to his poem, and in my opinion is the best stanza of the poem. Herrick’s meaning behind this stanza is basically to Seize the Day. This stanza’s translation, to me, is to do what you want while you can because you will not live forever, and if you don’t do what you want today, then tomorrow you might not get the chance to do anything at all. The reason that we’re studying Carpe Diem is because of the movie Dead Poets Society. The setting of Dead Poets Society takes place in the 50’s at an all boy’s prep school, where it always seems to be cold. A new English teacher, Mr.
Keating, at the school inspires a group of kids to start an underground poetry reading group, where the students read poems written by dead poets, or written by themselves. All of the poems read at these meetings follow the same meaning: carpe diem. The name of this group is the Dead Poets Society. Out of Herrick’s same poem “That age is best which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer; But being spent, the worse, and worst Times still succeed the former. ” This excerpt explains that it is better to live life to the fullest while you’re young, because as you age, you lose chances to seize the day.
The Dead Poets Society is adolescent boys, which is exactly the time to seize the say according to To the Virgins to Make Much of Time. The adolescents in this society interpret Carpe Diem differently, because there is more than one way that it can be interpreted. Since there are different ways to interpret Carpe Diem, each character does something different. For example, a boy named Knox meets a girl from the local public High School, and falls for her. He works up the courage to call her one night, and she invited him to a party at her boyfriend’s house, where he kissed her, and proceeded to get beaten by her boyfriend.

Another boy, Charlie, changes his name to Nuwanda, and insists all of the dead poets to call him as such. During a school wide meeting, Nuwanda brings in a phone and pretends to get a call from god, he then tells the headmaster that the call is for him. All of these boys do exactly what Herrick says in his poem. They are gathering ye rosebuds, while they can. I like to think of Carpe Diem as similar to The Force in Star Wars: there is a dark side, and a light side. The side that most of us would like to know is the side where one does whatever they want and only has fun doing it, which is known as the light side.
The dark side is where one does what they want, but what they want to do may be way overboard, and the repercussions of their actions may lead to serious consequences, or even death. One of the boys, Neil, has an overbearing father that is making him go to school to be a doctor. But what he really wants is to be an actor. Mr. Perry would say things like, “You have opportunities that I never even dreamt of, and I am not going to let you waste them! ”(Dead Poets Society). This, to me, is what set Neil over the edge. I believe that at this moment he realized that his father was trying to live through him.
This was the moment that Neil finally has had enough, this was Neil’s climax. What happens to Neil brings out the dark side of the force that is known as Carpe Diem. Instead of talking to his father about what he wants, he does something as drastic as taking his own life. Neil went entirely too far with living each day like it is you last, because he would have lived the next day, if it were not for his poor choices. The resolution of this film doubles as another boy’s climax. Todd is a very bashful boy that only tries to do what is expected of him. Todd was even bashful through Mr.
Keating’s teachings of Carpe Diem and all of the Dead Poets Meetings that took place. But at the end of the film, Todd finally broke his silence, and stood up on the desk saying O captain my captain, defying his temporary replacement teacher’s orders. He does this in honor of Mr. Keating, and everything that he taught them. Soon enough all of the members of the Dead Poets Society, as well as a few other students that have no relevance, are standing on their desks saying the same phrase, O captain my captain. To the Virgins to Make Much of Time played a big role in the Dead Poets Society, by capturing the lighter side of carpe diem.
This poem also captures what I believe carpe diem means to me: Live life to the fullest, and to live life while the blood is still warm. This poem embodies carpe diem, and everything that the Dead Poets Society stood for. Understanding how the film and the poem connect so deeply helps the viewer, or the reader, appreciate them both just that much more. Works Cited Herrick, Robert. “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time. ” Trans. Array The Poerty in Dead Poets Society. OxleyPrint. Weir, Peter, dir. Dead Poets Society. Writ. Tom Schulman. 1989. DVD. 10 Feb 2013.

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