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Whose Life Is It Anyway Essay

Freedom of personal choice is an issue that in many instances is taken for granted in contemporary society. However when considered fully it would appear that in many cases freedom of personal choice is relegated to those who conform to the expected conventions of mainstream society. That is to say a person has freedom of choice to marry who they wish providing their preferred choice of partner is not of the same sex. Another example is the issue of adoption.

Providing the intended parents are a heterosexual couple the personal choice to adopt or foster a child is viewed as a valued contribution to society. Whereas if the intended parents are in another type of relationship or are even single the choice to be part of this type of family would be denied. The issue of euthanasia or assisted suicide is a further example of where a person’s personal choice is denied them. It would appear that while many people support the right to die at their will the matter continues to polarise society, and remains illegal in Australia. Whose Life is it anyway? ” is a play by Brian Clark, written in the late 1970’s, and tells the story of paralysed Ken Harrison and his fight against the establishment, particularly Doctor Emerson the consultant physician, to be allowed the choice to end his life. These opposing values are argued throughout the play and help to broaden the audiences’ understanding of the very controversial issue of euthanasia. The hospitals’ view as well as our societal view is that euthanasia is illegal and life must be preserved at all cost.

Another text which deals with this confronting issue is the online news article, “Poll: Fight for Euthanasia Rights”, Newcastle Herald, 11/03/13. Both texts through a range of techniques successfully position the audience to consider this topic and the significance of having freedom of choice in this area of one’s life. Brian Clark uses the setting of a hospital to arouse pity in the audience for the protagonist Ken.

It is obvious from the very beginning of the play that the audience are being positioned to view the events from Ken’s perspective. While the opening scene uses humour to introduce Ken the visual impact of the nurses having to roll Ken over in order to rub his heels becomes more confronting when Ken actually thinks he is having his back rubbed. The nurse replies to Ken’s suggestion that he is “having his backside caressed…” By responding, “I’m rubbing your heels”.

To which Ken replies, “I can’t feel anything wherever you are. ” As the play progresses the pity that is initially aroused in the audience becomes empathy as the audience gradually become familiar with the character of Ken. It is clear that Ken has a sharp wit and is extremely intellectual. The audience learn that he was once a teacher and sculptor and if he is unable to use his hands for his art the audience are increasingly convinced that he will have very little quality of life.


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