The film Dead Poets Society (1989) directed by Peter Weir has several main characters. Neil Perry, Todd Anderson, and John Keating can be said to be the main characters of the movie. They all play a large part in the narrative development, and the story appears told largely from Todd’s perspective. However, it can be argued that the main plot and all three climactic moments of the film revolve around Neil Perry. His relationship with his father is also central to the plot, leading to the tragic resolution of Neil’s story and leaving its mark on the other characters, as well. 

Additional important characters in the movie are the other boys who take part in the Dead Poets Society: Charlie Dalton, Knox Overstreet, and Richard Cameron. They are all influenced by Keatings’ teachings, and in the end scene all but one show it by standing on their desks as a tribute to Keating joined by several other boys in their class. Among them, Richard Cameron notably does not pay tribute to Keating. Although a member of the Dead Poets Society, he was the first to betray Keating, choosing to side with Dr. Nolan for his personal benefit.

Other characters include the other teachers at school, who appear only briefly apart from Dr. Nolan, a former English teacher who is also the headmaster of Welton Academy. Dr. Nolan appears as a symbol of the conservative, rigid establishment, in contrast with the progressive, nonconformist Keating. McAllister, the Latin teacher appears initially to be part of the same traditionalist mindset, but over the course of the film appears to be swayed to Keating’s side. Chris Noel and Gerard Pitts are also characters worth mentioning.

You can read full characterizations as well as information on some of the most important relationships in the following pages.

Excerpt from the study guide:

Neil is a model student, but his activities are heavily controlled by his father

Neil is a model student. He excels in all school subjects with “all A’s in every class” (01:22:46). He also attends Chemistry summer school because his father thinks he “should get ahead” (00:06:30). Dr. Nolan considers him “one of Welton’s best” (01:52:28-01:52:32). Neil does not enjoy any of the subjects, but he excels ...

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