Vivian bearing stars as a university professor in the play “Wit” of 1999 authored by Edson Margaret. The play takes place once this metaphysical poet is 50 years of age. At this age, she is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and everything is revolving from her behavior, relationships with people, and reflections on life. One notable trend during her illness is the recitation of "Death Be Not Proud” a Holy Sonnet X by Donne. Like most professors, Vivian has had a reputation of teaching approaches that are considered rigorous by students; moreover, she is single and childless. The most astonishing fact is that she has no emergency contact, and her both parents are deceased. This paper will focus on presenting Vivian’s transformation taking into account how she transforms as both a person and a patient throughout the play. Moreover, it will evaluate how she changes from a person to a test tube and the irony in this transformation considering her occupation. In addition, it will portray what Vivian learns as she becomes sicker.
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Vivian as a person has strong believes in God and devotes most of her life to reading John Donne’s holy sonnets. She is every vigorous in her class work and is suffering from solitude due to her childlessness, and loss of her parents. Although she is proud of her status as a professor, she is later transformed into a humble being after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer something she never dreamt about. She accepts the chemotherapy suggestion as a solution to her problem and from this time, the chemotherapy side effects affect her life in a major way, and this has made her life be transformed forever. Most of the people around her depart and she delves into all time solitude to an extent of some of her students assuming her (Thompson). She is reduced from a well-known professor in English to a normal cancer patient; her status does not save her from the cancer. This is though expected; since, cancer has no boundaries, or is it all illnesses? As a patient, Vivian is transformed slowly from a strong woman with ovarian cancer to a weak patient all the doctors around see her no hope of reviving or bringing back to normal life. With this, the best way to utilize her is to convert her into a test tube where studies done on her would help other people with the same problem in the future. The wits, she counted as the weapon against everything cannot be traced anywhere closer to her, and it can be deduced that, as a patient she has been transformed from a witty patient to a normal patient helpless without the help of the nurses. As a patient, Vivian is transformed in to a reflective patient, capable of deciphering how insensitive she was in life and that at least she should have been more kind to more people. She is reduced to a worthless patient, who gets one of her former male students examine her naked. She asserts, “… having a former student give me a pelvic exam was thoroughly degrading…” (Edson). This examination is done usually when women are naked, and requires the presence of a female nurse in case the examining doctor is a male to avoid cases of sexual harassment being raised, (Langhorne et al.). It reaches a stage where pain has overtaken the event, and she opts to adopt a choice of DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) in case of a collapse so as to prevent this pain.
There is a huge irony in the unfortunate situation that has surrounded the life of Vivian. She was once the most apt researcher of all time. She used to ignore the call for humanity in her quest for knowledge in the English realms, (Brantley). All she did was spend time on research in the literally world, now she is the subject of research in the medical realms, this has reduced her into a subject matter whereby amongst the researchers interested in using her as a test specimen are those people that she has taught. This is very ironical in this context. Harvey Kelekian tells Vivian, “… as research it'll make a significant contribution to our knowledge…” (Edson). The wits, which she exalts, are no longer seen to work for her. She did much of reading and reflection of the holy sonnets. Before this time her students were at her mercy to get good grades, this time she is at the mercy of her former student to get better health. Through a flash back, the audience sees the life of Vivian since her childhood, graduate school and her flourishing career until the untimely diagnosis with the metastatic ovarian cancer. Jason Posner is one of Vivian’s students and instead of treating her well; he sees he as a specimen tool. This is ironical.
At the end of the play, Vivian has learnt he need for kindness and humanity in life. This she has leant after she is deserted by everybody apart from Susie Monahan; 28 years old nurse, and Dr Ashford, an 80 years old professor, who was Vivian’s college professor. Had she been good to many people they could have seen her through her final days?
In conclusion, this paper was seeking to present Vivian’s transformation taking into account, how she transforms as both a person and a patient throughout the play wit. This English professor had been degraded from a metaphysical poetry researcher to an ovarian cancer specimen, whose results would advance knowledge. The twists in life have made her learn the importance of compassion, kindness, and humanity to an extent that she wishes she were closer to people in her lifetime.
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