From The Reader, compare and contrast the scene in the movie in which Michael goes to his law professor to talk for advice about revealing Hanna’s history with contrasting scene in book where he...

From The Reader, compare and contrast the scene in the movie in which Michael goes to his law professor to talk for advice about revealing Hanna’s history with contrasting scene in book where he goes to his father. 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the similarities between both moments of counsel is that Michael receives counsel from an academic or intellectual frame of reference.  In the film, the Professor speaks to Michael from a legalist point of view.  There is little in way of emotional empathy.  The professor does not seek to establish a full and authentic bond with Michael over what has happened.  The film shows the law student vision of Michael as a confused soul.  He is tormented over what he feels and what confronts him.  However, the professor simply addresses it from a legal or academic notion of the good.  This same level of division and distance from the agonizing emotional frame of reference is seen in Michael's conversation with his father.  The academic persona that his father appropriates is one where emotional connection is distant.  Michael feels it.  He cannot speak to his father in a meaningful and sincere manner because of the barrier that exists between them.  The book shows Michael's father as a philosopher, who is not necessarily willing to embrace the emotional constructs of consciousness.  Rather, like the law professor, he appropriates being in the world through an academic frame of reference.  The similarity between both characterizations is that they fail to authentically address the precarious predicament in which Michael finds himself.  Academics in the form of philosophy and jurisprudence cannot help to alleviate the multiple levels of pain that Michael is experiencing.

One distinct difference between both resides in the level of Michael's emotional alienation.  In the film, the fact that Michael cannot receive solace from the law professor is significant.  However, it is understood that the professor is going to be limited in what he can offer because of his role as academic advisor.  In the book, Michael's emotionally forlorn state is more pronounced because he feels that his father cannot provide any meaningful connection to him.  At a point where Michael feels true agony and desperation in not knowing what to do, he cannot turn to his father.  He is unable to seek counsel from one who should be able to provide so much to him.  The lack of emotional connection with his father enhances Michael's abandoned connection, something that is not as evident in the film with the lack of resolution from the professor.

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