You’re gonna wish you never had met me…
Does it hurt when you realize that the waiting list for Walton was (probably) so long that without Neil to fill a bed, Todd most likely would’ve gotten a new roommate as soon as the second semester started?
Oh Captain, My Captain!
Part Two - Uniform & Non-Conformity | Part Three - Casual Wear, Chris & the Play | Part Four - Cultural Aesthetics & The Struggle for Individuality
Look, this is a long, long post I put together throughout this week as an insomnia project. Actually, just think of all my long posts as my version of Gansey’s mini Henrietta model in trc. Useless passion projects.
The opening shots establish the context of Welton. We are shown a Mother fixing the uniform of a young boy. However, this is not quite the expected display of maternal fussing, it is the perfecting of a performance, and this is conveyed through costume.
The mother is only visible by her gloves as she straightens her son's tie and collar. This focus on formal dress emphasises a level of detachment in their relationship as there is no skin-on-skin contact (something promoted for new mothers and their babies).
This is reinforced by the accompanying dialogue, "keep your shoulders back." Immediately, all concern for the student is centred on the presentation of his uniform as a representation of both his family and his school. Thus, the Welton uniform is shown as restrictive. It is a symbol of both the expectations and the weight of tradition which is impressed on the children required to wear it as they learn to uphold the inherited image of excellence.
There is no individuality amongst the students in this assembly. As the camera pans over the Chapel we are shown hundreds of almost identical boys in a sea of black blazers, white shirts, and striped ties.
The tone of tradition - the first banner to be held up to the camera - is set by the details of the ceremony, notably the use of Catholicism alongside Scottish (and potentially Irish) culture.
Most modern Catholic schools in the US were founded in the 19th century (like Welton in 1859) to accommodate the increase of Irish immigration to North America. Most schools at this time were Protestant, and in 1852, the First Plenary Council of Baltimore (a meeting of archbishops & bishops) aimed for every Catholic parish in the US to open its own religious schools.
These institutions were considered a fundamental method of preserving the values threatened by anti-Catholic bills. They formed close communities with the parents (whose financial contributions were essential) and alumni (representatives moulded by their values). For this reason, tradition and discipline became key features of these schools.
I find it interesting that the Welton procession is led by students in traditional kilts (part of both Irish and Scottish heritage) who play 'Scotland the brave' on bagpipes. The headmaster, Mr. Nolan, has an Irish name meaning 'noble.' These hallmarks of older (and primarily Catholic) cultures add to the oppressive weight of history felt in the Chapel setting.
This general atmosphere is then visually broken down to focus on how it affects the main characters.
Cameron holds the first banner with 'tradition' which highlights its relevance to his individual character arc. He is arguably the one who struggles most with his relationship to tradition, ultimately falling back on it for a sense of safety after Neil's death.
The next poet in line is Knox holding 'discipline.' Knox's main struggle is achieving a balance between two unhealthy extremes. He declares, 'I've been calm all my life," before gaining the courage to ring Chris, and this reflects the rigidity he's always known. However, his supposedly romantic storyline highlights how Knox abandons all necessary self-discipline as he learns the freedom of Carpe Diem.
Finally, is Neil with 'excellence,' foreshadowing how trapped he becomes by his reputation as a model student, and by the expectations of authority figures. This is consolidated at the end of the ceremony when Nolan says, "we expect great things from you this year," and Mr. Perry replies, "he won't disappoint." By jumping in to reply for his son, Mr. Perry asserts his authority over Neil while also showing that his son's achievements are (in his view) inextricably tied to his own.
'Honour,' the final banner, is not held by any of the dead poets. This indicates that none of the main characters feels a sense of honour in themselves, the school, or its traditions and values.
Each teacher wears full academic regalia, a long black gown with a coloured hood denoting their subject of study. This strict adherence to academia indicates the prestige of Welton Academy and the high standard of education that its individual staff has received.
Keating and McAllister both wear white around their necks to signify the study of the arts and humanities.
Nolan also wears a medallion to signify his status as headmaster. This is often an element of formal dress worn by college presidents, which shows Nolan's connection to the Ivy Leagues (where he boasts many of his students attend). Mr. Nolan also has velvet around the neck of the gown to signify a doctorate.
Each teacher also has a coloured trim on their gowns that I can't find the official meaning of. Some staff, like McAllister, have a matching hood and ribbon trim. Others, like Keating, do not as his hood is white and the ribbon trim is purple.
Historically, purple has been a colour reserved for the clothing of royalty or those with power and wealth. In modern history, purple began to be perceived as a colour of creativity and wisdom. By dressing only Keating in subtle hints of purple, this introduction to his character hints at the leadership and wealth of knowledge he provides for the dead poets.
Keating is also shown in a light purple shirt during class, which I mention in part two.
I do also want to note (for the purpose of Keating as a queer-friendly figure) that purple is a colour that carries significance within LGBTQ+ history and literature:
The flower is mentioned frequently in Sappho's fragments and has been used as wlw code
During the 1920s, 'violet' was a slang term for lesbians
Édouard Bourdet's play 'The Captive' (1926) was censored for its lesbian themes, including a female character sending violets to another female as a symbol of her love. There was a trend in Paris of people wearing violets on their lapels in support of Bourdet's play
The derogatory term 'a streak of lavender' was used to describe men whose masculinity did not match social expectations, hinting that he may be a homosexual, known as a 'lavender boy'
In the 1970s, sapphic feminists, such as Rita Mae Brown, wore t-shirts with the slogan 'The Lavender Menace' as a protest until they were admitted to mainstream feminist circles. This was a response to the well-known feminist author, Betty Friedan, claiming that lesbians were a 'lavender menace' who would undermine feminist efforts
The Lavender Scare
A lesser-known branch of McCarthyism under Senator Joseph McCarthy, most well-known for his anti-communist 'red-scare.'
McCarthy led a very public campaign to rid the government of 'communists and homosexuals' who were considered to be a threat to morality and to national security
Thousands lost their jobs despite a subcommittee investigation concluding that there was no evidence suggesting gay or lesbian civil servants had been blackmailed into betraying state secrets
Purple and its developing association with queerness
The invention of synthetic purple dye in the mid-nineteenth century caused the colour to become widely available. Historically, the colour had been expensive due to its source from a species of snail found in modern-day Lebanon. Until the 1850s, it had been a colour reserved for royals and the wealthy
In the late-nineteenth century, purple clothing became highly fashionable due to its new availability and novelty. As the movement of Aestheticism arose, purple became a popular colour amongst the Aesthetes who many deemed effeminate, or associated with Oscar Wilde and his 'purple hours' of drink and relations with men. Thus, purple began to be associated with a subculture many queer men participated in, and eventually with the queer community
(My A-level American History course)
Catholic Schools in the US: here and here and the Plenary Council
Anti-Catholicism in the US: here and here
Academic Regalia: here and here
The Lavender Menace
The Lavender Scare
Lavender as an LGBTQ symbol
The history of purple dye
just found out that not everyone hates knox😟‼️‼️ like gurl he kissed chris without her consent and you still like him🧍🏻?- get outa here-
The Dead Poets Society - “Teenagers” My Chemical Romance
Charlie Dalton - “Bubblegum B*tch” MARINA
Long time no quiz. I had an idea last night that turned out into something. Check out what happens to you after entering through the doors of Welton Academy at https://uquiz.com/zrHRcZ !
I'm really funny.
Made a thingo!
Soccer Uniforms at Welton Academy!
I find their Uniforms very interesting throughout the movie, especially their P.E. / Sportswear because it's 1.) in the 50's 2.) Because they have to be uniform hahah the Chuck Taylors are a nice touch cuz they were popular for sports, mainly Basketball, at the time, nowadays they're normal sneakers used for many occasions outside of sports.
I should draw all their clothes hahah, This was fun!
(Sorry I forgot to draw Todd, I know he was part of Soccer team but poor boy wanted to be in Rowing haha)
Welton Academy Radio Station (music until the 60s)
I made a playlist with songs from the 40s, 50s and 60s to capture the vibe from welton at the time; I like to imagine that these songs would have actually been played at Welton
I like to listen to it during study time or car rides
I know this kind of playlist is not for everyone but I hope some of you'll enjoy it
it's not done; I'll still update it!!!
Charlie Dalton, oh sorry, Nuwanda gets sent to a public school because his parents wanted to teach him a lesson for not using all the opportunities he was given at Weton. Which is obviously fine with him. He finally picks up the Saxophone, because he has more time now than he had at Welton with all the homework and stufying, and somehow never let's go. He prefers expresses his grief for Neil by playing rather than crying or about it. He meets up a lot with the dead poets and reads them the poems he wrote, and of course plays the Saxophone. He never gave up on getting girls to Welton, so he plans on opening a co-ed boarding school once he graduates from college.
my first quiz. enjoy. https://uquiz.com/y8A6mK
Neil Perry appreciation post cause i love him <3
just look at him :) one hug from Neil will solve all my life problems i just know it
Neil Perry: Is prepared for any scenario and has gone through all tactics from latest years. As he tries to remember tips and tricks he gets knocked out and loses. Made through the middle though!
Todd Anderson: Is panicking 110% of the fight, trying to hide behind others. Accidentally keeps winning individual battles and ends up getting quite far.
Knox Overstreet: Forgot the event was happening, comes to the field and doesn’t understand the rules. Loses early but is proud because he did better than Cameron.
Charlie Dalton: Participates even though he isn’t a Josh. Has a blast and ends up in the top 5 before losing because he saw something more interesting in the distance.
Richard Cameron: At first wouldn't get it and wouldn't want to participate but everyone taking it so seriously he agreed just because he wanted to win and shut everyone up at that point. Would be one of the first ones to be knocked out. He’d immediately complain that it was against the rules and would not accept defeat. Demands a rematch.
Steven Meeks: Has a brilliant prank / sabotage made specifically for the event that has been in planning for a year. In the last minute however forgets to do one detail and as he’s standing in the middle of the field the sabotage machine crashes and he loses.
Gerard Pitts: Comes running like a slender man at people. Ends up winning the Josh fight.
on my first watch of dps, this scene was nothing but sort of a little wake-up call for the boys. their first dip to the ocean of Mr. Keating's lectures. their awakening to a yearning for a life well lived.
and then on my rewatch... [SCREAMS INTO FIST]
peter weir was so sick for this i am so unstable <3