Words of Wisdom:

"wat is this life full of care if we have no time to stand and stare" - Baylake

Edson's Wit

  • Date Submitted: 12/20/2012 11:24 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70.6 
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September 24, 2012
English 200- Sec A
Professor Suso

Wit: Love, Grace and Redemption

Margaret Edson’s “Wit”, is a play based on the life of Dr. Vivian Bearing, a professor of seventeenth century metaphysical poetry of John Donne.   Diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, Dr. Bearing volunteers to undergo advanced chemotherapy research. While the play is quite depressing throughout, Edson creates scenes where love, grace and redemption are expressed between the characters.

In the beginning of the play, Dr. Bearing’s personality is cold-hearted, uncompromising, yet brilliant. She dedicated her life to Holy Sonnets by John Donne. She recites also his poems in the play and also makes reference to them in her present state. As the play progresses, Dr. Bearing realized she should have been more kind to her students. There is one scene where a student asks for an extension on a paper due to the death of their grandmother. Vivian basically tells the student to hand in their paper when it is due with no empathy. Being in the position that she is in, dying of ovarian cancer, she craves that kindness from her doctors. “So. The young doctor, like the senior scholar, prefers research to humanity. At the same time the senior scholar, in her pathetic state as a simpering victim, wishes the young doctor would take more interest in personal contact…we shall see…how the senior scholar ruthlessly denied her simpering students the touch of human kindness she now seeks.”(1114) She regrets being so harsh. Dr. Bearing seeks salvation for all the wrong she has done. Just like John Donne wrote in his Holy Sonnets.

Towards the end of the play, Dr. Bearing changes her attitude and decides to become more like her compassionate nurse Susie who becomes her friend. Susie is the only one that had Vivian’s best interest at heart. She suggests that Vivian should think about her “code status” for when her heart stops. When feeling lonely and helpless late at night, Vivian...


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