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Whose Life Is It Anyway?

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Whose Life Is It Anyway? We are all entitled to dignity, we should all be able to distinguish what is right and wrong for ourselves, but what if your freedom of speech was taken away? Until we reach the age of eighteen we live our lives under the supremacy of our parents, this is for our better being. Once we have reached adulthood we are expected to make our own judgements, we should be able make rational decisions for ourselves. Teenagers eagerly work towards this goal of freedom with little thought for how they will always be under authority, whether it be in the workplace, the community, or in everyday life. But these rules which we unconsciously live under are supposedly for our own benefit. Brian Clark wrote "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" in 1972. Ken Harrison is a artistic and intellectual man, a sculptor by profession. Until he is involved in an unfortunate accident which leaves him paralyzed from the neck down. His witty, vibrant mind is left trapped, in a useless shell of a body. Throughout the book we sadly witness a man of great intrepidity have his independence stolen, along with his dignity. The books vast majority is set in Ken's hospital room where he waits indefinitely. Kens only contact with the world outside, ironically, are the doctors and nurses, which have become the reason for his confinement. ...read more.


But their expert and experienced opinions have begun to base their judgements on the many hundreds of patients who are just like Ken. This repetitive way of working has become second nature to them, they only want the best for their patients, but they fail to see them as individuals. Their detached lifeless buoyancy is much like talking to a brick wall, with the same rehearsed response to most questions. They use "a series of verbal tricks to prevent them relating to their patients as human beings". These "highly qualified nurses" are taught to find "potential" at "the bottom of every bed pan". The nature of their jobs requires that they perceive human life as a priceless gift. The life of the patient is always paramount in every situation. Dr Emerson above all, believes in the sanctity of life, and that nothing compares to humans fragile existence. But to Ken his "shadow of a life" is barely worth living. Someone such as Ken who has recently undergone such a traumatising experience is expected to of suffered some mental anguish, depression is common in patients struck with a terminal illness such as himself. In this crucial time after the accident, ken is prescribed a drug designed to insert "rose coloured filters" behind his eyes. To Ken his consciousness is the only thing he has, ken is petrified of losing the only thing he has left, the only thing he can control. ...read more.


Waiting years to achieve something inconsequential. Like a father Dr. Emerson wants the best for his patient. When a parent disciplines a child they are often doing it for the future, the child wont appreciate it at the time, but the Dr. Emerson hopes he will look back and agree with his experienced decision. In Kens situations there simply is no "right" or "wrong" answer, he has a mind healthy enough to make a rational decision, but should such a mind be wasted? Kens answer would be that it is not a waste, it is freedom, a mind so healthy should not be left to rot in a dead body. The decision is left to a judge, a man of no connection to either argument, this "catch 22" has only one outcome. When the board is so evenly divided, a man should be given his desire. Ken is granted his wish, and as the play comes to an end, a few words pass between Ken and his doctor. Dr. Emerson offers that ken stays at his hospital, so he can be looked over in his last days. Ken asks why Emerson is displaying this sudden act of kindness, to which the reply is "Simple! You might change your mind". The audience is left feeling as everyone around ken does at this moment, with one question lingering in their minds, "What If...?" ...read more.

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