Visual Analysis: Euthanasia: If You Really Care Essay
Euthanasia has remained a heated debate among the pro-life and pro-choice community for several decades. Euthanasia is also known as assisted suicide as well as mercy killing. Those who support euthanasia argue that it allows a person to be put out of their misery; they believe that shortening a terminal patient’s pain and suffering is a final “act of mercy” (Medical News). Proponents of euthanasia allege that in the circumstance of having a terminally ill family member or friend, we should end their pain. Therefore, the “Euthanasia” image sends a panging feeling to the viewer’s conscience.
The audience is left feeling uncomfortable, for the image leads them to feel liability for extending the pain of a terminally ill patient. In today’s modern world, advancements in science have been made and diseases and illnesses that were once deemed incurable, now have a cure. A. A. Brill states, “it is quite impossible to say who is absolutely incurable” (Brill 166). He says this due to the fact that science and medicine have increased life expectancy and also due to the possibility that people could be misdiagnosed (166).
The image and its use of the colors, black and white, help stress the incurability, helplessness, and hopelessness that is felt between a terminal patient and the loved one. The debate on euthanasia and how some factions believe it is a final “act of mercy” prompted the creation of the image (Medical News). The artist recognized the heated pro-life versus pro-choice debate, and picked a side based on either experience or research and focused his attention on the audience. Because it is an argument regarding life and death, the image’s caption warrants that it is morally wrong to let someone suffer.
It is targeted to our emotional and moral standpoints. The audience could be someone who is pro-life or someone who believes that mercy killing can be justified. At the bottom of the image we see the poignant phrase “If you really care, you’ll end it. ” The phrase alone parallels our emotions and our sympathy towards others. The argument would fail if someone were unable to feel any form of sympathy after reading the phrase. The image draws the audience’s attention because it is very simple. The lack of color also aids the image in presenting the argument clearly and free of distractions.
The hospital room is gloomy, there are two lights overhead, and they appear to be going out on the rightmost side. The flickering and dimming light symbolizes the wavering hope and helplessness. Also, the view from the window is dark; it symbolizes a loss of hope, darkness. The viewer’s eyes are then drawn to a still figure of a man in a hospital bed, and then to the woman beside him. She appears to be crying and holding on to his hand. The man in the hospital bed is hooked up to machines and appears to be lifeless in bed. It appears that the machines are sustaining the man and monitoring his decaying health.
If the viewer were to look closely, they could see a spike in the man’s vitals and then a flat line. In front of the man, there is a plant; it contrasts the man’s physical state. While the plant is growing, the man’s health is failing. In the cartoon, the viewer cannot see the woman’s face for she has her head bowed down over the man. The artist relied on the audience being able to infer that the woman was crying. The audience can only assume the woman is feeling distress. If the audience were unable to draw this conclusion, they would have missed the entire argument.
To many, the image would appear vague, for they audience cannot perceive emotions through the image itself. The audience would have to have some prior knowledge about euthanasia and would have to be able to create an inference. In the political cartoon, the artist is attempting to elicit a response. Depending on the constraint that the audience would feel a sense of moral obligation, the author expounds his argument by carefully selecting his words and selecting a font that depicted the emotion he was trying to convey. Firstly, the word choice in the image is strong.
At the bottom, the statement “If you really care, you’ll end it. ” Again, the words hit our sense of moral obligation. It is intended to make the viewer feel uncomfortable. The artist then carefully selected a font that would help convey emotion. The blocky font selected sends a quick and impactful message that feels almost urgent to the reader. After analyzing the characteristics of the political cartoon, the viewer has a greater understanding of the issue at hand. While the image itself played a large role in the understanding of the argument, it was the careful word choice that made the greatest impact.
The strings of the viewers heart and conscience were tugged and most likely an emotional response was elicited. In conclusion, the image elicited a reaction from its audience. It forces the viewer to put himself in the hypothetical situation and puts them in the “spot” by stating “If you really care, you’ll end it” (Euthanasia). By combining the use of a black and white cartoon, bold and block lettering, the creator of the image was able to relay his message clearly and effectively. His argument that a euthanasia is a final act of mercy to those who are terminally ill is understood.