The Role Of Simple Language Wit

1130 words - 5 pages

The issue of life and death is the central theme of Margaret Edson’s play “Wit”; whereas the main character’s (Vivian Bearing) finding of her misconception of witty language’s significance is used by the author for representation of Vivian’s change due to her disease. In particular, Ms. Bearing’s advocacy for the need of wit in language loses its importance under the influence of her experiences in the hospital. Vivian’s concept of witty language undergoes fundamental changes during her hospital stay, which results in her understanding of the role played by simplicity in the expression of real life human experience.
Being a professor of English, Vivian Bearing is passionate about the ...view middle of the document...

Now is a time for, dare I say it, kindness” (Edson 45). Her stay in the hospital as a whole and especially the kind treatment given by Susie Monahan, a nurse at the Medical Centre, helped her to understand that language is a means of human life’s expression, which must be simple. Being aware of her complicated state (the start of the cancer in new places) and being required to choose whether she wants to be kept alive with the help of machines (a Code Blue) or to die without life-sustaining treatment (Do Not Resuscitate), Vivian realizes that there is no more time for erudition, interpretation or complication. It is just a choice between her life and her death, whereas language (and wit of John Donne’s sonnet “Death Be Not Proud”) so adored by her does not have the power to express the whole delicacy of the situation in which she appeared. As a result, her accustomed belief changed under the action of her doubts in witty language’s ability to be applied to her own situation: “I’m in a … quandary, having these doubts” (Edson 42).
Ms. Bearing arrives at the conclusion that her previous idea of language has nothing to do with real life and real feelings of people. For her, witty language was a sign of her ingenuity seen by her to be capable of resolving any issues. As it becomes clear, Vivian’s disease showed her that her wit cannot save her life, it even cannot be applied for her understanding of the situation. She says, “I thought being extremely smart would take care of it. But I see that I have found out. Ooohhh” (Edson 45). It is obvious that Vivian’s finding hurts her own feelings; this ‘ooohhh’ is a dramatic confirmation of this aspect. In fact, the professor of English discovers that she cannot express her thoughts with the help of words. She always taught her students that language is a great means to communicate ideas while wit is a helpful device. At the same time, when she faces the need to make her own ideas clear, she manages to say only “It’s as if … I can’t … There aren’t …” (Edson 46) She experiences a most definite problem with phrasing, for she is ambivalent about her previous love of witty language and its present...

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