Deconstruction of Leadership in Dead Poets Society and 12 Angry Men Rhetorical Analysis

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

Contingency theory of leadership focuses on the significance of a given leader with regard to a certain situation. Authentic leadership bases its focus on leadership being responsive to need and morally grounded. On the other hand, the transformational theory of leadership states that leadership is the process that works towards changing individuals. According to Aristotle, an effective leader should discern and observe the various persuasions that might be efficient and work well during the time of need.

The two primary applicable divisions with regard to Aristotle’s Rhetoric in the two films include the oratory display approach and the forensic approach. It is essential to note that the forensic approach is evident in 12 Angry Men. According to Aristotle, the present parties work towards establishing the injustice or justice of some action in a law-case and try relating the subsidiary points to come up with a reasonable conclusion.

The perspectives of the theories of leadership evident in Dead Poets Society and 12 Angry Men may vary, but it is essential to note that they have similar underlying principle. In that sense, a leader is an individual who essentially moves a group of other individuals towards achieving a common goal. A leader does this through social influence. An effective leader should have adequate rhetoric skills in verbal and written communication. Every leader in Dead Poets Society and 12 Angry Men possessed immunization that worked towards striking a positive chord with the group they led. This paper will deconstruct and synthesize the various leadership portrayals in the two movies.

Dead Poets Society portrays various leaders who have diverse characters and each of them exercises a specific type of leadership. Mr. Perry and Mr. Nolan exercise authoritarian and transactional leadership while Mr. Keating exercises entrepreneurs, charismatic, and visionary leadership. Charlie Dalton shows great signs of natural leadership. Besides, collective leadership is clearly seen in the film, where a group of students joins hands to try and re-launch the Dead Poets Society. The group of students enjoys the freedom of thought throughout the movie. They thought outside the box and came up with a new name for the pillars of the school. The secret renaming of the pillars incorporates Horror, Travesty, Excrement, and Decadence. This demonstrates that a leader must exercise free and critical thinking. He must also make critical decisions whenever the situation forces him.

12 Angry Men is an outstanding film that captures leadership opportunities and challenges. Leadership is about influence and Juror No. 8 portrays this quality perfectly. In essence, he successfully managed to influence his colleagues to see things in his perspective. Juror No. 8 does not have an official authority that exceeds the other jurors, but he uses his leadership tactics to persuade them to reconsider. This case proves that one must not have a title to be a leader.

The things that Juror No. 8 has no idea about play an important role in bringing out the leadership qualities in him. He highly exposes his earnest reservations and avoids showing his earnest presumption of guilt. In essence, this is what pushes him to argue critically, which eventually causes his colleagues to think critically. He utilizes rhetorical techniques that largely comprise of questions. This kind of approach is known as “inquire-led dialogue” and it is a powerful and counterintuitive tool that is used by leaders.

Trait Leadership Approach

This approach essentially states that leaders and followers are differentiated by particular traits. Specific traits play a role in determining the leadership type that an individual exhibit, but there is greater need to also consider situational factors (Daft & Lane, 2008). In the film 12 Angry Men, Juror No. 8, who comes out as an emerging leader of the other jurors, utilizes personal traits to handle the situation. As explained above, he persuasively shared his thoughts and gave outstanding reasons why he thought the accused should not be proven guilty.

Juror No. 8 possesses and exhibits a democratic leadership style. He gave his colleagues a reason to discuss and analyze the case with open-minds. He did not force them to believe in what he thought. They did this on their own will and after thinking about his argument critically. On the other hand, the situation at hand was tense and jurors were exhausted and wanted to go home after a long day. However, Juror No. 8 utilized trait leadership style to calm them down and encouraged them to stay longer and think about the verdict and the facts of the case.

Trait Leadership Approach is also demonstrated in Dead Poets Society. John Keating was new in the teaching fraternity of a strict boarding school. His character traits and personality makes him the most ideal individual for the tough task of leading the boys to develop a positive attitude towards poetry. Mr. Keating also plays an essential role in pushing the students towards the discovery of their self-identity.

Taking Charge without Taking Control Leadership Approach

The act of taking charge without taking control is another effective and efficient leadership tactic. In essence, a good leader is expected to inspire others without ordering or forcing them to believe a particular idea or move in a certain direction (Furman, Bender & Rowan, 2016). Juror No. 8 in 12 Angry Men did not issue any orders to his colleague jurors to change their thoughts and votes. It is his argument and open mind that inspire them to do so. Juror No. 8 clearly claimed that the final verdict of the case could possibly go either way. His actions and tactics exhibited the “taking charge without taking control” method of leadership.

In Dead Poets Society, it is evident that Mr. Keating related well with his students and inspired them to develop a positive attitude towards life and poetry without forcing them. Mr. Keating allowed the passion he had to speak out. He further tried his best to influence the boys by giving them an exposure to the theories and poems that he loved. After doing all these, he allowed the students to think and make choices for themselves. The teacher exercises the effect of “taking charge without taking control” style of leadership whereby students end up treasuring his time with them. They further develop an acceptance and love for their interests and individuality.

Style Leadership Approach

This approach majors its focus on what leaders do and how they act. The approach comprises two primary types of behavior, namely relationship behavior and task behavior (Adeniyi, 2007). Relationship behavior works towards assisting the subordinates to develop a feeling of comfort on various levels while task behavior helps in the accomplishment process of a goal or an objective (Glanz, 2002). The style approach paints a picture of how leaders influence subordinates through a combination of the two kinds of behavior.

The character of Juror No. 8 in 12 Angry Men utilizes the style leadership approach. He tactfully combines his primary objective of giving the accused man a fair hearing with assisting his colleagues to eventually feel comfortable reasoning critically before voting. He manages to do it despite the fact that the other jurors are tired and do not have the motivation to stay longer. In trying to convince the other jurors to shift their thinking, Juror No. 8 receives countless personal attacks from them, but he tries his best to achieve his objective by not giving up. In essence, the approach plays a critical role in assisting the twelve jurors to think twice about the questionable facts.

On the other hand, Keating’s leadership style in Dead Poets Society is supposed to be different due to the fact that his boys are obedient. At the beginning of the movie, we see Keating criticizing the poetry textbook for introducing poetry in a dull way. He has a passion for poetry and believes that it is a great subject of study. The students are excited by how Mr. Keating inspires hope in them and their love for life. Students eventually drop the negative attitude that they had towards poetry and work towards achieving excellence in it.


Cite this paper

Deconstruction of Leadership in Dead Poets Society and 12 Angry Men Rhetorical Analysis. (2021, Nov 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/deconstruction-of-leadership-in-dead-poets-society-and-12-angry-men/



What are the issues that dominant in Dead Poet Society?
The two main issues that are dominant in Dead Poet Society are conformity and the pressure to succeed.
What does Dead Poets Society say about following and leading?
The movie Dead Poets Society is about a group of students who follow the lead of their teacher, who encourages them to think for themselves and express their own ideas.
Who is the leader of the Dead Poets Society?
The leader of the Dead Poets Society is Mr. Keating.
We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out