When first watching a movie, the real meaning behind the film is often not obvious. The Dead Poets Society shows another aspect of a filmmaker's point of view by clearly showing authoritarian settings and the subsequent gender roles surrounding them. The producers of films often create a gender construct that gives either a strong dominant masculine point of view or a more submissive feminint perspective. This movie, which is set in a male boarding school emphasizing an English style of education, depicts a very proper school setting with strong masculine ties. However, upon closer examination of the film, we see a much deeper meaning behind it, which shows the change in perspective from a rigid attitude on life to a creative way as the movie progresses. .
The boarding school culture has always been one of preparing young men to enter a college or university focusing on a strong education and a superior work ethic. Upper class white males are often expected to attend schools like these. They are sent away by their parents to gain knowledge that will aid them in their future educational endeavors. Parents either tell their sons the profession they are expected to pursue, unless it is preordained that they would take a position that their fathers presently hold. In the film we see all these things are true. The boys face the challenge that is set before them (by the new "radical" teacher's ideology) to become something that their parents or teachers would never suspect: "free thinkers." .
Gender in this film is very strongly masculine at its start. The students ways of thinking and actions are the same as they were raised. The society is founded on the idea that men have the obligation to enter a school such as the one portrayed in the movie. In the opening scene, we see a younger boy say his farewells to his parents. This child seems to be no older than in the 6th grade, and the boy begins to sob to his mother about how he didn't want to stay at the school.