Which source best explores the questions: What is the meaning of life?

Haru Qiu

Synthesis Essay


Block D



Which source best explores the questions: What is the meaning of life?

Many people may face a question that has been asked since they were little babies: What do you think is the meaning of life? Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film directed by Peter Weir, written by Tom Schulman.Set in 1959 at the fictional elite conservative Vermont boarding school Welton Academy. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” written by James Thurber is a short story which took place in Waterbury, Connecticut. Although both sources answer the question, “What’s the meaning of life?” Mitty has a negative tone whereas Dead Poets portrays a positive attitude. Regardless of the difference, both show that we should seize the day in order to be happy.

Carpe Diem. In Dead Poets Society, when the boys first went to Mr. Keating’s poetry class, things start to shake up a bit. Mr. Keating got the class to leave the room and observe the pictures of alumni that line the hallways. He leaned to the boys and whispered to them, (Schulman) Mr. Keating used this quote to inspire them, they are the members of the human race, all the passion and excitement for life they share is what makes them special and unique. Mr. Keating encouraged the boys to find their voice and look at things in a different way, just like Neil. Neil is a normal but idealistic student in Welton. He was one the huge fan of Mr. King’s poetry 《 Dead Poets Society》. Neil was looking forward to being free but he got highly trapped in solving the family relationship in reality. He yearned for freedom and wanted to found what he was living for. He decided to be an actor and stood in the center of stage in front of the whole school. To achieve his dream, he would rather sacrifice everything, even his life. Nevertheless, Neil’s father’s intimidate was real existed, there was no possibility to neglect it, he lied the process to his father because he was too afraid to be against his parents. To achieve his dream, he would rather sacrifice everything, even his life. Due to《Dead Poets Society》, Neil had found a model for rebellion-Mr. Keating. Although Neil’s character was a tragic example because he misunderstood Mr. Keating’s love of freedom, at least he tried. Before the last seconds of his life, he touched every corner of the crown gently, he knew his death won’t be meaningless because the crown was the evidence that proved him had lived in this world, in everyone’s heart.

Walter Mitty portrayed a negative impact on readers. The story deals with a vague and mild-mannered man who drives into Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife for their regular weekly shopping and his wife’s visit to the beauty parlor. Walter has a very everyday office job in Life Magazine without any surprise. He lived under his wife’s control and desired freedom. Walter has never done anything significant or adventurous before, and he’s having some problems with his work. He daydreams about having an exciting life, full of fantastic adventures and being a superhero who’s capable of doing anything: “The Old Man’ll get us through, they said to one another, the Old Man ain’t afraid of Hell” (Thurber)  Walter Mitty was not afraid of taking the risk because he was confident about himself, he believed he could get them through the trouble successfully. Walter Mitty was not afraid of death because he knew he was no longer a young man anymore, everyone is going to die, but before death he could fight for himself in the limited time and cherish every minute of his life. That was Mitty’s meaning for life. However, in reality, Mitty’s first motion when facing troubles was escaping. He denied the truth and kept dreaming in his fake fantasty world. He got immersed in dreams that lead to the result of the ending of the story. This has been a common phenomenon in Mitty’s life. He hasn’t live fully to his life and has wasted his past life already. He was not able to distinguish the dream and reality. The book The secret life of Walter Mitty was appealed to old people better than young people.

In conclusion, Dead Poets Society and “The secret life of Walter Mitty” are filled with inspiring moments and quotes, the biggest different from these two sources are the endings. One is to teach students seize the day the other is to warn readers not to escape when solving the problems or they will have the same ending with Walter Mitty. Comparing Dead Poets Society with “The secret life of Walter Mitty”, Dead Poets Society explores what is the meaning of life better. Seizing the day, cherishing every minute of your life and Carpe Diem!


Dead Poets Society. Writer: SchulmanTom. Director: WeirPeter. Actor: Robin WillamsSean LeonardRobert. 1989.


ThurberJames. “The New Yorker.” ThurberJames. The Secret life of Walter Mitty . New York: Conde Nast, no dates.



1:Two things I did well: I think one thing would be that my thesis stated how these sources reflect the similarities and differences in the sources clearly and my conclusion wraps up argument strongly.

2:Two thing i need to remember for G12 essay: My grammar still needs to prove much because the tone of my essay was unclear, the other thing  is that when i write intro i should conclude the basic information in the very first paragraph.