WIT, a play written by Margaret Edison, illustrates Vivian Bearing, an English professor of Seventeenth Century Poetry, diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer, with little time to live. In her lonely journey towards death, Vivian discovered her need for human kindness. The play starts off with her doctor explaining to her that she has an insidious cancer, and needs to go through intensive treatment immediately. Ironically, chemotherapy, which is supposed to treat her, actually endangers her health. As she becomes weaker and weaker, she becomes a child. She feels the need for warmth, comfort, attention, and affection.
Vivian spent more time working, than enjoying life. As a student, she spent most of her time at the library for research papers. Once her professor didn?t accept her paper, and advised her to ?Go out [and] enjoy [herself] with [her] friends.? (15). Instead, she went to the library and tried to figure out what her professor was talking about.
Another example would be at the hospital, when her doctor, Jason, asked her about any pain she felt. Vivian described she felt a sudden pain while working on a project with a strict deadline. He asked if she was under stress, but Vivian explained that, ?It wasn?t so much more stress than usual ?? (25). This portrays her constant stress about work, which may have the cause for her pain.
Vivian seemed like a very lonely person. She had almost no visitors at the hospital, except her professor. Every time she was asked if there was a family member she wanted to be informed, she answered, ?That won?t be necessary? (12). When Nurse Susie asked, ?Is there somebody you want me to call for you?, again she answered, ?That won?t be necessary? (29-30). It revealed her lack of friends and loved ones. As the only visitor, her favorite professor came to see her. At first Vivian felt embarrassed and then cried in need of comfort. Her professor sat on the bed next to her and read out load a children?s storybook about a bunny rabbit. Before she could finish the story, Vivian lost sense of any pain and fell asleep. This shows how Vivian turned into a child and needed the same affection a sick child would need. Like a child when given bad tasting medicine, Vivian hated the treatment processes and cried out, ?No more tests?, and ?I do not want to go now!? (42). She urged attention like a child and made the nurse come see her by making the IV alarm go off. ?I wanted her to come and see me. So I had to create a little emergency? (51). Staying at the hospital, Vivian got used to the nurse and considered her as her closest friend at that time. She enjoyed being nurtured and taken care of, which she isn?t used to. For example, when Susie asked, ?What?s the trouble, sweetheart??, and Vivian answers to the audience, ?Do not think for a minute that anyone calls me ?Sweetheart?? (51). Another example is when Susie asks Vivian if she wants a Popsicle, and Vivian breaks it in half and shares it with Susie, symbolizing friendship and sharing. Then Susie shares a childhood story with her, ?When I was a kid, we used to get these from a truck. The man would come around and ring his bell and we?d al run over. Then we?d sit on the curb and eat our Popsicles. Pretty profound, huh?? (53).
Then Vivian answers with, ?It sounds nice? (53). At this point Vivian is at a state of mind where she can?t handle any serious thoughts, such as academics, poetry, or anything that requires deep thought. Little things like stories and Popsicles amuse her and keep her mind off of thinking about her illness and death. Vivian admits herself that, ?now is a time for simplicity. Now is a time for, dare I say it, kindness. I thought being extremely smart would take care of it. But I see that I have been found out?. She thought that being educated would help her overcome these feelings, but instead, she needs comfort and kindness.
Throughout her life, she struggled to become an excellent scholar, but when she is faced with death, all the knowledge and hard work came to no use to her when she?s in pain and in need of comfort.