Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph (2012)
The novel Me Before You, the original work of the movie which won tremendous popularity recently, not only described the love, but also brought out the topic of euthanasia. Although not treated the topic deeply as other books did, Me Before You expressed miserable condition and respect for one’s choice well from family’s perspective and main characters. Furthermore, it provided an opportunity to consider about human nature and euthanasia.
The heroine of the story, Louisa worked at a small local cafe in the United Kingdom; however she lost her job as the cafe closes. Lacking special skills and talents, she could not find a new place to work. One day, Louisa saw the advertisement and applied to help care for the paralyzed patient Will for 6 months. Will, once had been competent and popular businessman, became paralyzed from the accident. He denied himself for a while, eventually choosing death with dignity. Waiting for the scheduled date, Will’s parents hired Louisa as the care giver for Will. Though their first encounter was not a good experience for both, they became closer slowly. After knowing that Will’s time only 6 months left, she tried hard to make him to reconsider about death.
Death with dignity and euthanasia is the human right that enables people to keep their dignity and value. Actually, they are different. The death with dignity stops meaningless prolongation treatments, thus the patient can end one’s life naturally, whereas the euthanasia is done by artificial behavior. Though there is active euthanasia which prescribes medicine to patients, the passive euthanasia is sometimes equated with death with dignity for stopping necessary injection. Since both euthanasia and death with dignity are involved with ethical, religious, legal and medial issues, whether to admit them or not is still controversial. Majority of countries does not recommend active euthanasia, except for Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, 5 states of the United States and Quebec, Canada. Dignitas hospital of Switzerland, which is mentioned in the movie as well, is the only place that allows euthanasia for foreigners in the world and 1749 foreigners visited here since 1988. For one’s own happiness, some chose their death, but there is another argument that it is duty as human being to live each day to the fullest.
When dealing with issue of euthanasia and death with dignity, always the same question is raised: ‘Can human choose to die oneself?’ It is a quite complicated problem and hard to state whether to agree or disagree. Nonetheless, the important part of this issue is not the judgement of right or wrong, but the reason why people chose euthanasia. “This could be a good life, but it's not my life, it's not even close.” Will said in the movie, explaining why he determines to die with dignity. Will thinks that his life before the accident was happy and regards it as his original life. He could have chosen to life longer, but he thought is would be meaningless. In the movie, I could understand the decision of Will as well as the efforts of Louisa and Will’s family to spare Will’s life. Thus, I could not take one’s stance whether the death in dignity is justified ethical, legally, religiously, and medically or not. Even after the movie was over, I deliberated whether the someone’s death is the sort of a problem that others’ coercion is needed. The movie became the chance for me to ask myself if I love the life I live.
Intern Hyo Young Nam