The play ‘Whose Life is it Anyway? ’ by Brian Clark explores conflicting issues and views through the protagonist predicament. Having conflict is essential in drama. Conflict is created through disagreement of different perspectives and allows the audience to question their values in society. The three keys areas of conflict that arise in the play are the dignity of choice, professionalism and desire. Dignity of choice is a key conflict that is conveyed throughout the play.
Ken is a paraplegic resulted from an accident which stripped him from his dignity of choice, unable to make decisions himself. Throughout the play, dignity of choice has been portrayed effectively in many key scenes which lead to the tension of the issue of euthanasia. A key incident where Ken has had his dignity of choice removed was when he was forced to take the injection as one of a series of measures to keep him alive. The author utilises dramatic techniques to further enhance the conflict of dignity of choice.
Contrast is employed to portray the two conflicting ideas in the play between Dr Emerson’s concept and Ken’s notion of the right to be discharged. Ken’s quote: ‘’Don’t stick that thing in me! ’’ suggests his lack of authority over his own decisions as he is powerless against Dr Emerson. Another key conflict that is skilfully portrayed throughout the play is professionalism. Ken has a strong view on his subject of euthanasia and the doctors are having a hard time caring for Ken without being emotionally affected.
During the scene with Mrs Boyle, Ken confronts her with many of his own opinions about his rights and decisions. Mrs Boyle being so called ‘’professional’’ by Ken completely ignores Ken and continues with her own perspective of what should happen. Ken says ‘’You doctors with your appalling so-called professionalism, which is nothing more than a series of verbal tricks to prevent you from relating to your patients as human beings’’. This suggests the professionalism of the doctors ignoring the patients as human beings.
The play writer uses stage directions to portray the anger which builds up as well as the lack of oxygen built up by the anger and tension, over the ignorance of Ken’s views by Mrs Boyles so called ‘’professionalism’’. The last conflict of desire is presented strongly through the use of techniques and language throughout the play. The playwright uses symbolism, to symbolise Ken as a skateboard. This objectifies Ken, describing him useless and dehumanizes him from normal humans. The conflict of desire is presented as Ken tells Dr Scott that he still has ‘’a man’s mind’’ and feels ‘tremendous sexual desires’ even though he knows that he can never again have a physical relationship.
This suggests the conflict of being human or mechanical as he is rendered useless in the face of his desires. Overall, the conflict is essential as it provides issues presented towards both sides and creates the question of values in society. The play writer has successfully achieved his purpose through the use of dramatic devices and has produced a strong purpose in showing the conflicting views and values of euthanasia in our society.
Courtney from Study Moose
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