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Whose life is it anyway?

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How does Brian Clark present Ken Harrison in his play 'Whose Life is it Anyway?'? Of what relevance is the play to modern society? How would you feel if you were told you would never walk again? This is the situation of Ken Harrison in the play 'Whose Life is it anyway?', who is paralysed from the neck downwards due to a tragic accident. Brian Clark presents and explores the modern issues related to euthanasia through Ken's struggle for the right to die. Throughout the play, Ken is presented as a lively, humorous character, using humorous language, for example, ''...going down - obstetrics, gynaecology, lingerie, rubber wear...'', so he appears to be making the most of his situation, even though he knows there is little hope of him ever leading an ordinary life again. However, an alternative interpretation of Ken's humorous approach is that Ken could be using humour as a mask to hide his real feelings underneath. He feels despair that his body cannot fulfil what he wants to do. Ken is a very intelligent character; this is shown through his quick, witty responses, for example, ''What do you mean? Have I finished nurse. I haven't started her yet!'' ...read more.


In the first part, the hospital argues that Ken may not be in a state of mind to make decisions, however, Ken insists that the staff do things his way, for example, when Dr Emerson gives him valium. At this point, Emerson is acting outside the law, but Ken, in his vulnerable position, cannot defend his rights. Ken refuses to have the valium, but is powerless to stop it being given to him, so this makes him angry. Ken also believes he has the right to know all the details of his condition, and the possibilities of his future. His frustration about this is reflected in the structure of the play; the audience does not realise at first what the situation is, but as the play moves on, Ken's condition and details of his past are revealed and built up in stages, for example, we learn that he is a sculptor. In the play, rules and regulations seem to play a large part in the hospital. This annoys Ken because he feels the staff are not allowing themselves to overcome their impersonal attitude and tell Ken what is really happening to and around him. Mrs Boyle also acts coldly towards Ken, finding nothing else to comment on but the colour of the walls, ''...used to be really dismal, all dark green and cream...'' ...read more.


This is shown by the discussion between Ken and Mrs Boyle; Mrs Boyle says, ''it's the job of the hospital to save life, not to lose it.'' Drama is an effective way of bringing issues to the publics attention, because it brings them to life, whereas if someone was simply reading about an issue, they may not take in everything they are reading. Drama informs people, and challenges their opinions, as well as being entertaining to keep their attention. 'Whose Life is it Anyway' is a story, which moves chronologically to show the audience the series of events which happen to Ken. This means the audience can relate it to real life, as an example of what is really happening. This makes the issues involved more believable. I believe Brian Clark was neither for nor against euthanasia, but wrote the play to bring up the issues about it, and show how complicated they are to solve. I think he also wrote it to be an entertaining piece of drama, but with depth beneath it's humorous nature. I think the message of the play is to think carefully about the consequences or things before you make a decision. The play did not alter my perspective of euthanasia, but it made me think more about the issues related to it. ...read more.

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