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Whose Life Is It Anyway?

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The main theme that rounds throughout the play are those of: life and death, decisions, responsibility and authority. The story is about a paralysed sculptor who wants to end his life against the wishes of the authorities (the Doctors). The main characters are Ken - the paralysed man, Dr.Emerson and Dr.Scott. In addition to this their is John, Nurse Saddler, the Sister, the Judge and they two lawyers, though these last 3 characters only make a brief appearance in Act Two. The play is mainly set in Ken's room in the hospital occasionally going to the Nurses Office. There is a lot of conflict between Ken and Dr.Emerson; it represents the occurrence of a person with a debilitating illness fighting against the authority for their rights. It also represents the strong views Doctors have for saving life at all costs. Brian Clarke uses the conflict of opinion to create dramatic tension that draws the audience in to the reality of life. ...read more.


Clarke introduces a clash between Ken and Dr.Emerson in the first meeting. When Dr.Emerson first meets Ken he is patronising towards him and when he refers to Ken's problems he refers to them as our problems 'Dr.Emerson: ... we have almost overcome it all...' It is not very thoughtful and it is very patronising, Ken then says 'Ken: you only grow the vegetables here - the vegetable store is somewhere else' This shows that Ken is under stress when he is told that he will remain in hospital for the rest of his life in another ward. Dr.Emerson says that he is the best person to make Ken's decisions for him. 'Ken: I think not Dr.Emerson: You can't decide that' Dr.Emerson then sticks the needle into Ken, this creates dramatic tension between the two characters for the rest of the play. As the conflict develops Ken calls in Mr.Hill, his solicitor after Ken expresses his wish to be discharged so that he can die. ...read more.


Ken: I'll get a room somewhere. Dr.Emerson: There's no need. Ken: Don't let's... Dr.Emerson: We'll stop treatment, remove drips. Stop feeding you if you like.' At this Ken is left in the hospital to die, as he wished. Ken's presence as an individual is shown throughout the play, he is on his own with only his own judgement to go on. On the other hand Dr.Emerson is extremely authoritarian telling everyone what to do just to keep Ken alive, which some people would view to be unfair. The length of scenes is kept short throughout, this is to enhance the tension between the characters before the long court scene at the end. It is also rather unique that the court is in the hospital as this brings a new type of atmosphere to the play. The audience is led to sympathise with Ken through Dr.Emerson getting him sectioned and forcing him to stay alive against his own wishes. This is what keeps the audience interested - this conflict. ...read more.

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