Dead Poets Society

Dead Poets Society Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Knox returns to Welton. Mr. Keating’s class has just ended. Keating calls Neil aside and asks him how his talk with his father went. Neil lies and says that his father is going to allow him to perform—Neil will be allowed to act, as long as he keeps his grades up. Neil, who hasn’t spoken to Mr. Perry at all, walks away from Mr. Keating, embarrassed by his lie.
Neil lies about his conversation with his father (a conversation which actually never happened). Neil’s fear of his father seemingly outweighs his love for the theater—just as Keating said, Neil isn’t yet being “true to himself.”
Themes
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Rebellion and Passion Theme Icon
Knox rejoins his classmates and tells them about reading his poem. He admits he has no idea what Chris thinks about the poem, or about him.
Knox is still infatuated with Chris, but he’s being more realistic about the consequences of his actions—instead of blindly assuming that Chris shares his feelings, he admits that he doesn't know what Chris is thinking.
Themes
Men, Women, and Love Theme Icon
It’s the night of the opening of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Dead Poets are preparing to leave for Henley Hall. As the students join Mr. Keating, who’s attending the play as well, Knox notices Chris walking through the dorm. Knox is appalled that Chris has come all the way to Welton—he protests that she could get him in big trouble if any other teachers see her. Chris shoots back that Knox is being a hypocrite—he visited her at her high school, after all. She explains that Chet found about Knox’s actions, and is threatening to hurt him. She came to warn him. Knox asks Chris for “one chance”—if Chris goes to the play with him tonight, and doesn’t enjoy herself, he’ll leave her alone forever, “Dead Poet’s honor.” Chris reluctantly agrees.
Perhaps it’s telling that Chris would come all the way to Welton to give Knox a message Chet has already given him—she might be more attracted to him than she let on. Once again, Chris as the “love interest” is portrayed as being helplessly drawn to the boy who groped her at a party.
Themes
Men, Women, and Love Theme Icon
The play is beginning, with Keating, Chris, Knox, and the other Dead Poets in attendance. Neil immediately gets the audience’s attention as Puck—he’s an excellent actor. As the play goes on, Charlie notices Virginia Danburry, playing Hermia—“She’s beautiful,” he sighs. Meanwhile, Chris finds “herself becoming infatuated with Knox” as they sit and enjoy Shakespeare together. As the play ends, Chris and Knox are holding hands.
Two people fall in “love” in this scene: Charlie falls for Virginia (who’s been a minor character up until now), and Chris falls for Knox. However, Chris’s newfound infatuation with Knox seems even more ridiculous than Knox’s initial infatuation with Chris: Chris barely knows Knox, and what little she does know about him isn’t very flattering.
Themes
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Love Theme Icon
Get the entire Dead Poets Society LitChart as a printable PDF.
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After the play, the Dead Poets go to the dressing room to congratulate Neil. Charlie, however, finds Virginia, still standing on the stage. He tells her, “Bright light shines in your eyes,” immediately getting her attention.
Although the novel portrays Charlie as being more sincere about his feelings for Virginia, Charlie uses the same tricks to encourage Virginia to love him—passing off other people’s poetry as his own. Thus, it’s unclear if Charlie’s feelings for Virginia are very different from his feelings for Gloria or Tina—his methods of wooing are identical.
Themes
Life, Death, and “Carpe Diem” Theme Icon
Rebellion and Passion Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Love Theme Icon
Back in the dressing room, the theater director alerts NeilMr. Perry is in the theater, and he looks furious. In the lobby, Neil finds Mr. Perry and Mr. Keating. When Keating praises Neil’s performance, Mr. Perry orders him, “Keep away from him!” He drags Neil out of the building. Mr. Keating stares after Neil, deeply sympathetic, while the other Dead Poets, along with Chris and Virginia, prepare to walk outside.
Mr. Perry is furious with Neil for disobeying him. It’s worth remembering that, had Neil followed Mr. Keating’s advice and communicated with his father, there’s at least a chance that Mr. Perry would have been more understanding.
Themes
Education Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Love Theme Icon