Looking At Prejudices And Persecution In Literature English Literature Essay

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When a man with AIDS is fired by a conservative law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit. Philadelphia is a 1993 American drama film that was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge AIDS, homosexuality and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner and directed by Jonathan Demme. The film stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. It was inspired by the story of Geoffrey Bowers, an attorney who in 1987 sued the law firm Baker & McKenzie for unfair dismissal in one of the first AIDS discrimination cases.

Philadelphia is a truly amazing and touching movie. Tom Hanks' performance is obviously worth his first Oscar for playing a convincing role as Andrew Beckett, a man who knows the meaning of justice and knows what exactly his rights are. With this role he breaks free from the stereotypes society that has dictated on the average gay man. Andrew is not put down as a feminine person at all and for this reason he is not believable as a gay man. But this is precisely the point the movie is trying to make. You would never suspect he is gay, because he doesn't act like one. Men are men, whether gay or not, and should be treated as such. Tom Hanks deserve praise for showing the world that gay men can be just as ordinary as any other. His Oscar is definitely

well-deserved and Denzel Washington, playing the role of Joe Miller, is also excellent and worthy of his Best Supporting Actor award. This movie about AIDS, homophobia and homosexuality is

first-rate and amazingly ground-breaking. I would recommend this movie to everyone.

Relate the book you have read to the theme 'Prejudice and Persecution'

Lies of Silence is set in Northern Ireland in a society bitterly divided thanks to some ancient political/religious conflict. The story is dominated by the deep-rooted and violent sectarian conflict. This sectarianism is found on both sides of the conflict: the novel ensures that there is no 'good' side. Michael speaks of the 'priests whose sectarian views perfectly propagated the divisive bitterness' and describes the Orange Order as 'that fount of Protestant prejudice against the third of Ulster's people who are Catholics.' The two religious figures that are mentioned are deeply involved in sectarian politics: the Reverend Pottinger is a leader of the Orange Order and delivers 'sermons of religious hatred', while Father Connolly is linked directly to the IRA and is portrayed as an apologist for their actions.

The working classes on both sides of the religious divide are portrayed as being the most sectarian. We are met with images of 'graffiti-fouled barricaded slums where the city's Protestant and Catholic poor confronted each other, year in and year out, in a stasis of hatred, fear and mistrust.' Brian Moore may be speaking through Michael when talks angrily of the 'lies told to poor Protestant working people about the Catholics, lies told to poor Catholic working people about the Protestants, lies from parliaments and pulpits, lies at rallies and funeral orations, and, above all, lies of silence from those in Westminster, who did not want to face the injustices of Ulster's status quo.' This statement in itself is one of the most depressing and disturbing images in the book.

Compare and contrast the elements of prejudice and persecution from the book you have read to the film you have seen.

There aren't many similarities between the movie Philadelphia and the book Lies of silence. Of course, both contain the theme prejudice and persecution, but the subjects are so different that they aren't really comparable:

The movie has to do with prejudices about homosexuals, while the book is about Protestant prejudices. The prejudices and persecutions in the book are based on religion and politics, in the movie they are based on sexuality.

Both main characters die in the end, but in the movie Andrew dies because he has a disease and in the book Michael dies because he was shot by people of the IRA. The death of Andrew, the main character of the movie, was invincible but the death of Michael wasn't. His death could be hampered.

AIDS and homosexuals are something that occurs in the whole wide world. Conflicts between Protestants and Catholics isn't something that is present everywhere.

In the movie people have prejudices against homosexuals. The main character gets fired and he doesn't believe that it was because of his achievements, but because he is gay. He is the one who persecutes someone: he sues his boss from his former law firm. In contrast with the book, where the main character is persecuted precisely because of prejudices.

In the movie the main character has reached his goal, in the book the main character hasn't. Andrew has won the lawsuit and he got justice, but Michael hasn't accomplished anything. He got murdered and because he did not testify the IRA still can continue murdering people. Nothing has changed and nothing will change, because nobody will stop them. Unlike the situation in the movie, because from that moment on people would look different to people with AIDS or homosexuals.

Follow-up assignments

Three possible titles

What one makes fearful

Before Michael gets kidnapped by the IRA, he is living a fearless live. He is the manager of a going hotel and he is just about to leave his wife Moira and start a new life with Andrea. But in this story Michael discovers that the IRA is closer than you think and that it's also more dangerous then you maybe would have expect. To Michael, the IRA and their actions were something he heard about in the news. But after the incident everything has changed. Now the IRA isn't unfamiliar anymore. He has to distance himself from it in order not to live in constant fear. But he does live in fear, even when he gets a transfer to London. He doesn't feel save anywhere. He becomes paranoid and sees dangers everywhere. He sees anyone in his sight as possible IRA members and is filled with fear.

Courage isn't everything

Unlike Moira, Michael doesn't want to go public with their story. He does not want to stand up against the IRA because he knows it would have consequences not only for him, but for Andrea too. Moira's braveness and his own unwillingness to identify Kevin makes him feel like a coward. In the end when he decides to tell the police that he will not testify because he is afraid, he feels as if he loses a bit of his integrity by this decision. Before he made this decision, he already was in indecisiveness day after day. On the one hand he was afraid to testify but on the other hand, by phoning the police and refusing to testify, he would be admitting he was afraid and that, again, the IRA had won. When he once and for all decides not to testify it is already too late. He had told Father Connolly that he would testify if he would get the chance so Connolly already told the IRA and Michael got shot down in his house. And this time, there would be no witnesses. So sometimes it is better to be a coward. Besides, immediately deciding not to testify would have shown how brave he is to let it go and that he goes on with his life. Maybe precisely that would have made him a hero.

Life isn't fair

In this story Michael has to make very hard choices. When he gets involved with the IRA he has to make a choice between his private safety and his wife's and the safety of hundreds of people who are working or eating in the hotel. After this crisis passed, Michael has another decision to make: can he hideaway abroad and enjoy his new love or must he testify against the IRA at the peril of his life? Michael wants to do the right thing and he has the need to be a hero. He is trying to save one's life and when he finally decides to stop being a hero and doing the morally wrong thing to save himself, it's already too late and he gets killed anyway. He saved the lives of many people, but that didn't save his own life. He risked his life for people he did not know and that makes his own death so awful and above all so unfair. But that's just the way life is. Life isn't fair.

Could the story have really happened? What is real and what isn't?

The story could have really happened. Actually, the story did happen. The book isn't fiction, but those things have really happened in the past and now they are trying to keep the peace.

But if I would not know this, I'd still think that the story could have really happened. The events in the book are written in such a realistic matter, that sometimes you'd begin to question if the story is fiction or reality (Most people don't know that the story have really happened. I did not either until I looked up information about the book).

The characters are very real too. I have sympathy for Michael as well as for Moira. I think it's understandable that Moira wants to fight back against the IRA. Because in Northern Ireland silence is the way the people act. They want to ignore organizations like the IRA and their actions. They just want to get on with their lives and they don't dare to testify or say 'no' to the IRA: they just follow orders and keep their mouth shut. No one speaks up to the IRA. And now Moira did. She acts like she doesn't fear them, but Michael does and he shows. He doesn't want to testify against Kevin because he is afraid. I understand both decisions, because I can imagine in both situations. I don't know what I would have done in a situation like this and I think nobody will, that's why it so effectively to see different views. That's what makes it so real. Everyone would react different in such situation. Some would stand up like Moira did and others will be scared to death such as Michael. You'd not know what the right thing is to do. So I can relate myself to both of them.

Though, some unrealistic things did happen. For example, the moment when Michael parked his car with the bomb in it in the car park of the hotel and went to a shop across the hotel to call the police. This wasn't very realistic, because Michael was followed by people from the IRA and he only had to buy some cigarettes or something else in here. After that he had to go outside where a green taxi would take him. But instead, he was inside for a very long time and nobody did come inside to get him. He then even goes undisturbed back to the hotel to give bomb alarm and there is no one who tries to stop him.

The end was also not very realistic. When Michael goes home and opens the front door, he hears the phone ringing but as he arrived it was over. He didn't shut the door and a man came in saying he was the gas man, but he wasn't. When he is sure that the man in front of him was Michael, he calls two other men who came into the room and shot Michael down. I think this was very suddenly. One moment there is nothing wrong and before you know he is dead. Besides, it isn't likely to leave the door wide open when you know you could be in danger.

Describe the most important problem that the main character has to deal with. Is the problem solved in the story? If so, how? If not, why not? Describe how you would have solved the problem if you had been the main character.

The most important problem that the main character has to deal with is to make the choice whether he wants to let his wife die or to safe the life off hundreds of people he doesn't know.

When Michael gets involved with the IRA he has to make a choice between his private safety and his wife's and the safety off hundreds of people who are working or eating in the hotel. This is a very problematical choice because of course he loves his wife and doesn't want her to die, but he doesn't want to let all those innocent people to die either. He decides to call the police and he goes to the hotel to give bomb alarm.

When Michael called the police, the IRA had luckily already left their house and left his wife Moira there alone. At this moment you think the problem is solved in the story: neither Moira or the people in the hotel have died. But after he had made this choice, Michael has another hard decision to make: can he live happily ever after with Andrea or must he testify against Kevin of the IRA and live in danger again?

He knows that it isn't wise to testify against Kevin but, again, he wants to do the right thing and has the need to be a hero. He decides to testify, but he got talk out of it by Andrea. Later Moira calls and she makes him feel like a coward for not testifying, so again he decides to testify. Andrea does still not agree with his decision and she makes clear that it is very dangerous and that all that matters is that they are finally together.

So now Michael is sure he is not going to testify. He calls the police to tell them, but the inspectors aren't present at the office so they will call him back later that day. When he gets home the phone is ringing, but he is too late to pick it up so he has to wait until the inspectors call him again. But he will never hear the phone ring again because he had left the door wide open, and when the man who called himself the gas man is sure that Michael is Mr. Dillon, two other men come inside and they shot Michael down.

I think the murder could be hampered if Michael hadn't told Father Connolly that he would testify against Kevin if he would get the chance. I think it was stupid to tell Father Connolly this, because at their first meeting Michael already thought that Father Connolly did know Kevin. Later Michael finds out that Kevin is his nephew, so from that moment on he could know that Father Connolly was linked to the IRA. Father Connolly knew where he lived so the IRA would know it too. But Michael still stays in the apartment where he and Andrea are currently staying.

If I would be Michael, I wouldn't tell Father Connolly that I would testify against Kevin if they'd ask me. Michael didn't recognize Father Connolly (he said they were in primary school together) so I immediately wouldn't trust him. Actually, I wouldn't trust anybody because I know I'm living in danger. There didn't even ring a bell when Michael found out that Kevin was Connolly's nephew. I wouldn't let it go that far. I probably even wouldn't go to London, or at least not to the Wellington. The IRA knows that Michael was the hotel manager of the Clarence hotel and Michael had already worked in London in the Wellington in the past, so it wouldn't be hard to find him there either.