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Summary of Margaret Edson's Wit

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In the play Wit by Margaret Edson, the relationships between the doctors are in need of examination. Dr. Harvey Kelekian, and Jason Posner, is morally viewed characters because of their discussions with the patient. Furthermore, the death of Vivian Bearing in the play Wit by Margaret Edson plays a role by teaching Vivian how to use compassion. In which, she could than die in more of a peaceful manner. “The doctors help Vivian fight the battle against ovarian cancer and ultimately revealing that kindness is a simple reward of action“. “However, the lack of compassion that Vivian receives from the doctors reveals that she is like all humans, who long for kindness. Dr. Jason forgot his bedside manners in a clinical manner showing how he feels for Vivian”.

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In Margaret Edson’s play Wit, a variety of characters with complex, unique personalities are brought to life. Edson uses vivid imagery and poignant monologues in order to highlight and simultaneously criticize the social structure, doctor-patient relationship, and implicit stigmas associated with terminal cancer. Many themes, such as the ones aforementioned, are displayed within the elaborate rhetoric Edson uses to construct both the outer appearances and the inner thoughts of the characters, which often contradict with one another. Edson’s intricate blending of each character’s juxtaposed identities gives readers a deep connection to the personal struggles of each character’s past and present. The main protagonist in the book, Vivian Bearing, experiences an immense shift in mentality when she is diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Although Vivian understands the seriousness of her diagnosis, her thoughts remain consumed with maintaining her image as an accomplished and world-renowned literature professor. Through the reader’s journey with Vivian Bearing, we encounter several of her relationships that each serve to propagate Vivian’s spiritual awakening and acceptance of her diagnosis. Through her relationship with herself, Dr. Jason Posner, and Sally, we see that her “sick experience” is the product of ongoing social interactions and relationships encountered throughout the play, rather than a defined, concrete set of principles. Before delving into Vivian’s relationships and their impact on her “sick experience,” her character must first be analyzed from the point of view of how Vivian views herself. Ever since a young age, Vivian was exposed to reading literature. Mr. Bearing, Vivian’s father, encouraged her to continue reading more books, to which she replied, “I think I’ll read…The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies".

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Susie, who is among the attendants of Vivian feels that the patient has suffered a lot and suggests that death, would be better. Vivian finally agrees that she is suffering from a dangerous disease and gets afraid. She finally comes to a realization that wit and intellect are not enough to guarantee human beings life (Park 1). As the play nears the end, the author brings out isolation as one of the major themes. Isolation is a condition in which an individual does not want to be in close association with others. Although this theme comes out clearly towards the end, it runs throughout the entire play. Vivian is suffering from a medical condition but she constantly denies it and says it is a condition that requires academic research. When she goes to the hospital, she refuses to be accompanied by relatives or family friends. The interpretation is that isolation is harmful as Vivian learns at the end. Wit is a play that tells the story of a professor who becomes a victim of cancer of the ovary. The professor is too concerned with her academic professionalism such that she denies her condition. She lives a life of isolation but as the play ends, she discovers that social relations are important in human life. The message in the play is that social relations are helpful in situations of need.

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To conclude, in her 1991 play, Wit, Margaret Edson examines the internal life of an English professor suffering a terminal illness. As the professor nears the end of her life, she starts to ask hard questions about what she did wrong and also what comes next. The stage play itself has been critically lauded. Before making its way to the New York stage, the show had openings in California and New Haven, Connecticut. Since its debut, Wit has played in stages worldwide and was adapted into an HBO Film. It has won several Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG and Peabody Awards. The show has also earned a Pulitzer Prize.

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Edson, Margaret. Wit. New York, NY: Nick Hern Books, 2002. Print

Park, Brent. Wit. 2002. Web.

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Summary of Margaret Edson's Wit
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