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The Joy And Misery Of Adolescence Essay

Compare and Contrast both the joy and the misery of adolescence as depicted in J.D Salinger Catcher in the Rye, Dead Poets Society (film) and the poems, Adolescence by Aidan Foster-Carter and Class Discussion by Gloria Yates.

Adolescence is the process of changing from a child into an adult. During this period of change young people mature physically, begin to take responsibility for themselves, and start to deal with the world of their own. For most young people, adolescence is a time in which pleasure, joy and excitement are mixed with confusion, misery and frustration. Most individuals experience this in their lives: Uncontrollable confusion and exasperation like Holden Caulfield does in Catcher in the Rye. Other adolescents find that growing up can be too overwhelming as they feel that the world is too much to handle, as that it’s a nightmare, with many high expectations.

Some look for an early exit, as Neil Perry does in Dead Poets Society. Or some view the world as, a form of a “˜joke’ like Charlie Dolton. Aidan Foster-Carter’s poem Adolescence has the theme that life doesn’t always go to plan, which are simular to Holden’s attitude about the unfairness about life and the transition to adolescence. Class Discussion, written by Gloria Yates, is full of despair. The girl in the poem is like Holden Caulfield and Neil Perry, because of the depression and their attitudes to their adolescent lifestyles.

In Dead Poets Society, Neil Perry and his classmates progress through the joy and misery of adolescence. Neil is under the pressure of his parents, and has been this way his whole life. Neil Perry is a well-loved, appreciated and admired student at his school, his joys in life, are that he desperately wants to be an actor, and explore the world in this way, but his overbearing father forbids him to. Neil in particular adores the new club called the Dead Poets Society. This club is so exceptional to the boys of the Welton boarding school, as they can escape from the stern rules set by the school. This newly formed club, summed up everything what the boys wanted to be and do. Neil especially, if it wasn’t for their fathers “I went into the woods to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck the marrow out of life…to put a rout all that was not life, and not, when I come to die, discover that I have not lived”. Neils does not want to go to medical school like his father want’s him to, Neil wants to be ‘himself’. In this case it is to act “˜For the first time I know what I want to do, and I’m going to be an actor and I’m going to do it’.

Neil’s changeover into his new adolescent life, was given assistance to by his English teacher, Mr. Keating. Mr. Keating’s who an idealistic teacher who has unorthodox teaching methods, inspires his students “to suck the marrow out of life”. Mr Keating believes that “Tis only in their dreams that men truly be free.” From Mr. Keatings motivation, this opens up Neils mind to the possibilities of things that each student wants to do, as for Neil it is to participate in the local play. Neils adolescent was ordained by his father Tom Perry, in spite of Mr. Keating opened his eyes to the possibilities of the world. Neil’s first extreme joy in his adolescent life, was the rebellion between the participation of the play between his father and himself.

“This feels great”. From this point Neil runs out of his childhood life and feels that he has something to look forward to in his new adulthood life. Neil Perry and many other students have there own personal battles to wage, and Neil is faced with a very unfair choice. The disharmony between Neil and his father is less than enthused. The misery that Neil experienced, because he could not act, being sent to boarding school that he had grown up in and that he could no longer talk to his father was his miseries, Neil says “Im trapped”, resulting in a tragic outcome, as he felt there wasn’t any hope to continue on with adolescence.

Simular to Neil, Charlie Dolton, is another adolescent, from the film Dead Poets Society who experiences both misery and joy in his life. Charlie is from a rich, bankrolled family and therefore can afford to indulge his more rebellious side of nature than Neil isn’t able to do. Charlie is a highly regarded, daring, admired student much like Neil and craves living broadly with no fears or responsibility. Charlie even changes his name to “Nauwanda” as if it was a new identity, and that he is ready to defeat adulthood. Charlie like Holden Caulfield, is sexually attracted to girls, Charlie has a desire for the local girls, and bringing girls to the Dead Poets Society cave, which is very daring, and amuses the other boys. Charlie Dolton is full of enthusiasm, and doesn’t take life seriously, in spite of having the same kind and attitude and opinions towards their school.

Charlie has a “˜laugh’ about his teachers, and even has enough courage to call out in a formal assembly, on the phone; “It’s God he thinks we should get girls at Welton”. Performing his goal of making a laugh in the crowd, it doesn’t go down to well with the headmaster and from this point Charlie is almost expelled from school. Charlies rebellious nature causes his adolescent life being filled with continuing conflicts, sometimes making Charlie feel the misery of being an adolescent. Charlie understands that he has to grow up and start accepting responsibility for whatever he does, but like Holden, he feels that he cannot let go of his innocence, which is being a child.

Holden Caulfield is a narrator of Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger who is an adolescent who undergoes both misery and joy. Unlike Neil and Charlie, Holden is not placed under any parental pressures, as he has his own freedom and choice of path he wants to take in his transition. Disillusions he has faced while maturing from a child to an adult resulted in him believing that the adult world was one of great phoniness and all adults in the world are considered a “˜phony’. Holden’s only joy comes from the times when he remembers the times with his brother Ali, or when his was with his sister Phoebe, Holden believes that children are so pure they are not one bit “˜phony’. Another joy Holden remembers is that when he was a child, he loved the National History Museum. “˜The best thing about the museum was that every thing always stayed right where it was…I loved that damn museum.” This was because the museum had never changed and every thing inside that museum was steady like childhood itself.

Pency Prep school was the last school Holden was expelled from, Holden often remarked on how “˜phony’ the school was, from the headmaster to even the events happening around the school. Holden is a hostile adolescent who believes that everyone in the world is to hurt him or lie to him. Neil and Holden are very simular, as they both believe that they are “˜trapped’ in their viewpoint of the world. Holden Caulfield believes that the world is a “˜phony’ and Neil Perry believes that he should do what ever he wants to and that the world should be the way Neil want’s it. Neil doesn’t continue on with adolescence, hence life, as he understands that the world the way he was expecting it, and falls into a heavily depressed person.

Holden however does go forward, as he moves through the difficult stages of adolescence and accepts the world for what it is. Neil “˜overreacted’ to the fact that he couldn’t continue on with his joy and passion of acting as he ended his life. Whereas Holden, in the last few chapters, lost his excessive enthusiasm, accepted life, which he too would become a “˜phony’ and be apart of the adult world. Holden’s attitude towards life is comparable to the girl in Gloria Yates’s poem Class Discussion. They both feel that their chance of life is doomed and from very little experience of the world. They both have a cruel and depressed out look on life.

Aidan Foster-Carter’s poem Adolescence has the theme that life doesn’t always go to plan which many individuals experience in their adolescent lives. The narrator is a young person, like Holden, who has experienced attitudes about the unfairness about life and the transition to adolescence. This is simular to Holdens Caulfield and Neils Perry. ” Once I was young, but that was the day before yesterday.” This shows us that this adolescent person has gone through the transition as Holden has experienced. “Life was a jigsaw” represents life doesn’t always go to plan, as what people expected it should be. Like Neil Perry, didn’t know that his transition to his new lifestyle would turn out as it did. “I’ll have to start all over again” is what many people in the human race experience through this changeover of their life. “˜Starting over’ is a misery to many people. Many individuals experience both joys and misery’s at this time of their life as it to some people that it is very hard to understand.

Sometimes the pieces of the jigsaw don’t fit and go to plan, as many people would want. “Then suddenly I snatched up handfuls of pieces and I flung them all over the room, and I seized them and spat on them and stamped on them…” From this expression the narrator expresses to us, that putting the pieces of the puzzle together is a very difficult part of life which symbolises adolescence, and many things in life don’t always go to plan like Holden, Charlie and especially Neil. Adolescence, by Aidan Foster-Carter illustrates that there are many changes in people’s lives and the teenager in the poem has simular feelings to other adolescence people. It realises the joy is that in the end eventually, life will turn out as planned if you think of the positive side of adolescence and misery is the pain and confusion of starting life all over, and that pieces don’t always fit like in childhood.

Gloria Yates poem, Class Discussion, explores the joys and miseries of a young adolescent girl. The “˜voice’ is of a teacher who feels that this girl is wasting her time by being a bitter depressed youth. The Girl and Holden have simular vicious attitudes towards the change and out look in their life, and the main theme of the poem is about teenage suicide as Neil Perry’s exit “They kill themselves because they can’t handle it, it’s all to much”. The girl is continually complaining about all the miseries that her life has and will have to experience in the future, “Aids, drugs, unemployment’ although the teacher, can be related to Mr. Keating in Dead Poets Society, and the adolescent in the poem Adolescence. “That girl is her own peer group” show the joys in an adolescent lifestyle as the girl has her whole life ahead of her, full of dreams and that she is so fresh. The joys in the girls life ahead of her is that youth shouldn’t be taken for granted instead every moment should be enjoyed, and that every little thing in life shouldn’t be criticised. Misery is another aspect in adolescence as the poem illustrates, and that is that young adults have peer pressure, that young adult’s can’t be individuals.

The narrator shows that, in her adolescent life things in general were a lot worse because of the threat of war and living in slums, simular to the perspective of Neils father, Mr. Tom Perry, “You have opportunities I have never dreamt of, and Im not going to let you waste them.” Neil Perry, Charlie Dolton and Holden Caulfield fight through the difficult period of adolescence, some cruise through adolescence, as others need more guidance. Neil’s joy was performing and expressing himself this way in his life, unfortunately Neil experienced more misery than Joy in his life as he felt totally defeated. Charlie Dolton was so unsure with what was happening around him as he felt that adolescence is a “˜joke’.

Holden’s joy is his younger brother Ali and his sister Phoebe and understanding that he is not a “˜phony’ and accepts the world for what it is. These three boys experience much more misery than joy, because the things that the loved and wanted was taken away from them. Neils acting was taken away from his father, Charlie’s understanding of the world and how Holden lost the view of that he was not a “˜phony’, and understood that he would turn out like everybody else, and could never be a child again. Adolescence is a stage that occurs in everybody’s life as it is a time of self-discovery, a time a person realises that they have to mature and follow in the direction of their joy, however the direction of joy can be confusing like the transition of an child to an adult.

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