“In a world where everyone struggles to survive whatever the cost, how could one judge those people who decide to die?” – Veronika
First of all, I would like to say how much I enjoy my World Literature class. I could write a million articles about poets, writers, and their masterpieces with a smile on my face. Anyway, this time, our class is tasked to write a critique about the book version of Veronika Decides to Die. For those, who have already read the book and have also seen the movie then the differences between the two should be obvious. In the book, Veronika works in the library but in the movie she works as an Account Executive and the doctor in the mental hospital is named Dr. Igor but in the movie, the doctor is named Dr. Blake. The setting in the book is in Slovenia but the movie is set in New York. However, these minor differences aren't really that important because both versions did convey the same message and that message is "Awareness of Life".
Alright, so let me begin by stating a fact mentioned in the book. Veronika is a character that was taken from a real life person who is also named Veronika. Paulo Coelho heard about Veronika's story and pursued to know more about it. For those who already know the story, you know that Veronika decided to commit suicide but she failed to end her life and found herself in a mental hospital. In relation to that, Paulo's reason of wanting to know more about Veronika's story is because he had gone to a mental hospital himself three times, in 1965, 1966, and in 1967. He still found it unusual though as to why he was brought there by his parents. So the first part of the book is simply an introduction as to how the author came up with the whole concept of the book. Furthermore, Paulo also explained the two reasons why Veronika decided to die. The first reason is that everything in Veronika's life was the same and just like in the movie, she was very negative about how her life would turn out once her youth was gone. Second reason is that everything that was happening around her was wrong and she felt useless because she found no way of making things right.
In the book, Veronika was living like any other normal human being. She lived in a rented room located in a convent and works as a librarian. She got sick of her mechanical ways of living and after taking a handful of pills, she found herself tightly strapped on a hospital bed. By then, she knew her plan of killing herself didn't work. She promised to herself that she would not leave Vilette alive. However, the doctors of the hospital broke the news brought about by the pills she took. Her heart was irreversibly damaged and soon it would just stop beating. It would only take a week at most before her heart would stop to function. In her stay in Vilette she met Zedka, Mari and Eduard, the guy whom she fell in love with. Eduard is schizophrenic in the book and expresses his own view of paradise through his painting. After meeting Eduard and showing interest in him, she realized then how much she could in her life, things she never thought she could do. After experiencing a shift in her view of life, she asked two favors from Dr. Igor. First was that she wanted to get an injection to prevent her from falling asleep and the second was she wanted to leave from Vilette and die outside. She mentioned all the things that she wanted to do once she steps outside and she wanted to do them one after the other despite the exhaustion covering her body. And just like in the movie, Dr. Igor didn't tell Veronika that she wasn't really going to die.
Since the differences between the two aren't really that significant because it didn't affect the whole point of the story, I found both masterpieces an effective way of reminding people about how important it is to value life and to appreciate everything that's happening around them. The message of the book is "awareness of life" and was delivered by Dr. Igor through his decision not to tell Veronika the truth about her illness. Veronika also sent me a message through her former way of living. It reminds me of myself sometimes. I tend to assume what the future might bring and dwell on them for too long without realizing that I am already degrading the value of my life.
Paulo Coelho's writing is impeccable and his way of narrating Veronika's story is purely creative. His choice of words and construction of sentences aren't too complicated making the book easy to understand. The message that was sent across by the book inspired me to live my life to the fullest. I believe that every single individual on earth should take a chance in reading Paulo Coelho's work because it will surely change their view of life, especially if they are living the kind of life that Veronika used to live into. I don't think that people would have a different take on this book since the reason why Paulo wrote this book is apparently to inspire his readers and remind them about the importance of life. I guess there's one thing mentioned in the book that I could relate with and that is the the assumption of negative things that could happen. Sometimes when we think logically, we can come up with possibilities of what could happen next in a particular situation. Like for example, imagine a pregnant 18 year old high school student who just dropped out from school. If we think about it, we can already build a future for that girl based on her present condition and that's what I do sometimes. I have a tendency to build my future through assumptions and believe that they would come true. Sometimes, I forget that my future is built through the actions I take in the present and how I respond to the challenges my life are throwing at me.
To sum it up, this book is one of the best books ever written in the history of the human race and I recommend this to those who haven't read the book yet.
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