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Whose Life Is It Anyway? Essay

4522 words - 18 pages

Does Clarkpresent arguments for and against assisted suicide without
prejudicing the audience in Whose Life Is It Anyway?

The central character in 'Whose Life Is It Anyway?' is Ken Harrison
who is a patient in the hospital, in which the play is set. The play
sees Ken, who has been involved in a horrific car accident, recovering
from various injuries, some of which will never heal. The accident
leaves Ken paralysed from the neck downwards permanently, which
results in him having to stay in hospital for the rest of his life.
Throughout the play Ken fights for the right to die, as he sees the
situation he is in as one that is not worth living. After many
struggles and set-backs, Ken is allowed to die, but against the
doctors' will.

The play was written in the 1970's when euthanasia, a form of assisted
suicide, was not a subject commonly discussed. An audience watching
the play in the 1970s would be far more shocked at some of the events
that take place than a present-day audience. In the 1970s most people
did not fully understand euthanasia and the effects of it and it was
certainly not talked about openly.

An audience thirty years ago would be quite shocked and possibly
offended by the language used by Ken and some of the hospital staff.
Also Ken's behaviour in general would be quite different from the sort
of behaviour people thirty years ago would expect to see in a theatre
or on stage. His sexual innuendo and his openness to discuss sexual
matters with the nurses would make a 1970's audience feel

A present-day audience would be less shocked by these matters as
euthanasia is quite a commonly heard of issue with three high profile
cases occurring in the last twelve months. One example if this is
Diane Pretty. Her fight for the right for her husband to be allowed to
help her die was heavily documented in the tabloids and seen a great
deal on television. People are generally more aware of euthanasia and
the effects it has in the present day as there is so much more media
which provides us with up-to-date information quickly and easily i.e.
the internet, radio and television.

The fact that in the 1970's euthanasia was a very closed subject and
was avoided as much as possible, people who lived thirty years ago
would not have really had a chance to make their own decisions on the
matter, so an audience going to see 'Whose Life Is It Anyway?' would
have a very open mind and be persuaded greatly by what they were

A present-day audience, however, would have already made up their
minds on euthanasia and would know for themselves the pros and cons of
the matter as it is so commonly discussed today. Therefore they would
be less easily prejudiced by the play. Nowadays people are well aware
of their rights and know what they are and are not entitled to. For
example, the Patient Charter, which informs patients of the intentions
and allocations of the government. This would not be...

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