Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Skinner, Jeffrey T.

Author's Keywords

Original writing




When Howard Manning wakes from a fainting spell to find himself hospitalized with a serious but correctable weakness in his heart, his refusal of treatment intimates a death wish that provokes consternation among the skilled medical professionals who are poised to save his life. The first act explores the character and implications of his resistance in relation to the expectations of his surgeon Dr. Vincent Abel, nurse Zo Clement, psychiatry resident Trudy Zeffirelli, and neighboring patient Clarence Weatherby. It culminates with Manning's precipitous and injurious departure against medical advice. The second act reveals Manning returned to his hospital bed, withdrawn and uncommunicative, visited by the spirit of the now comatose Weatherby. His conversation with the dying man, along with the ministrations of his caregivers, confronts Manning with problems in his philosophy of resignation. Meanwhile, his rejection of medical technology, along with his insistence on autonomy, confronts Dr. Abel with limitations in his principle of life-extension. The resultant play, with humorous tone but serious intent, constitutes a dramatization of the standoff between "the right to life" and "the right to choose."