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When Neil Perry decides to pursue a career in the performing arts, rather than in medicine, his father, Mr. Unmoved by Neil’s extraordinary performance in the play , Mr.Perry continues to insist on controlling his son’s life and dictating his every move. Perry’s efforts were in vain; Neil had already experienced freedom—a privilege not easily relinquished.
Though he lost everything in the process, suicide was the only way for Neil to stand up to his father and live life to the fullest (ala “Carpe Diem”).
Through the act of suicide, Neil is taking control of his life decisions—and must, as a result, accept the consequences.
Neil’s clearly existential actions were a necessary step in his process of self-discovery and individual growth.
On the complete other side of the spectrum is Knox Overstreet, the poster child of transcendentalism—and romanticism, in general.
On the other hand, however, the triumph of the individual spirit may sometimes have a positive outcome—as in the case of Knox Overstreet, an example of transcendentalism.
When Knox becomes obsessed with a certain girl named “Chris”—without actually meeting her—he ends up risking his life to win her heart.
John Keating gets the boys physically active when he Jumps on his desk.
This action is astonishing to these teens, you can tell by their faces in the video clip.
In some cases, such conflicts had positive outcomes (transcendentalism); in other cases such outbursts of individualism had deadly consequences for reckless individuals, like Neil (existentialism).
In either case, however, the process of self-discovery and free thinking was inevitable; after being granted freedom for the first time, both Neil and Knox were reluctant to surrender their new independence without a fight.