Study Guide

Dead Poets Society Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles)

Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles)

Knox Overstreet is a typical Welton student: studious, rule-abiding, and just a wee bit rambunctious. Neil calls him a "future Lawyer" which makes it clear that he, like the others, is on the fast track to success. It's hard to distinguish him from the other boys, and he does little in the opening part of the film to stand out.

He's just a typical guy.

…that is, until he falls in love. He goes from drone to Romeo in sixty seconds flat.

The Lover

When Knox arrives at the Danburys' house for a dinner he isn't exactly excited about, he's greeted by the lovely Chris. From that moment on, he's a goner.

Too bad she's dating Chet Danbury, big-time football star and all-around stud.

At first, Knox seems disheartened. He returns to the guys to tell him his story of love and woe. It's as unrequited as unrequited gets:

KNOX: If I can't have her, I'll die.

Dramatic, we know. But he seems to mean it. Despite the fact that she's got a boyfriend, he decides to call her:

KNOX: Carpe diem…even if it kills me.

Spoiler alert: it doesn't kill him. In fact, Knox's involvement in the DPS, and his newfound commitment to seizing the day, leads to a growing sense of confidence. He puts asides his fears and pursues Chris, showing up at a party at her house.

He even pets her hair…which gets him knocked out by Chet. (Simmer down there, Chet.) But that doesn't stop him. Knox shows up at her school…in a non-creepy way. He doesn't give up. He believes in love. He even writes her a poem:

KNOX: The heavens made a girl named Chris/With hair and skin of gold/To touch her would be paradise.

Because of poetry and Mr. Keating's tutelage, Knox transforms from an unsure young man into a passionate, driven poet, filled with desire and confidence.

And in the end, it wins him the object of his desire. Intrigued by his ardor, she shows up at Welton looking for him and agrees to accompany him to the play. They share a few longing glances…

And the rest, as they say, is history.

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