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How Does A Person’s Thoughts Evolve As They Draw Ever Closer To Death?

1179 words - 5 pages

How does a person’s thoughts evolve as they draw ever closer to death? Margaret Edson’s’ W;t explores the evolution of Vivian’s thoughts about life and death as she fights for her life, trying to beat the cancer that has reached stage 4 without being caught sooner. The drama production begins with a slightly formal Vivian and progresses from shock to fear and acceptance. Vivian is a very intellectual person and reflects as she goes through the process of examining her life to death, her relationships and her obsession with the work of John Donne that have made her familiar with death.
The story is told through a series of flashbacks and monologues. Vivian is a scholar through and through. ...view middle of the document...

Donne’s poetry doesn't provide definite answers, it only provokes more questions which is what appeals to Vivian (pg15). She calls it 'wit,' like it is a puzzle that will never be solvable She uses it to personify her life’s problems. When she is originally informed that the treatment she will have to go through will keep her from being able to teach, she is adamant about being able to continue but convinced to take the time off even though she doesn’t want to. She is slightly scattered, and tends toward sarcasm as a coping mechanism. By saying “It appears to be a matter…of life and death”, she is sarcastically being funny.
In a flash back from college her professor, E.M. Ashford, states, “Use your intelligence. Don’t go back to the library. Go out. Enjoy yourself with your friends” (pg. 15). Professor Ashford points out that Vivian takes her work too seriously. Vivian does not listen though and she goes back to the library. She can’t think of friends when she is consumed by the desire to pursue knowledge.
During her treatments, Vivian discovers that she has never shown any human compassion or sentiment towards another human being. In return for her unknowing actions she is now faced with the reality that she is alone and dying alone, truly realizing this the closer that she gets to death. It is only near the end of the play that she begins to accept her loneliness and becomes more dependent on human contact. Her resolute and determined tendencies are what have caused her to turn away any emotional relationships that were possible in her life.
When at first she is asked by the doctor if she has any family that the information needs explaining to, she casually says no. She is not bothered by it. Later, after a few treatments, she is admitted to the hospital having a reaction to the therapy. In order to get to the hospital she must take a cab, because there is no one in her life. Eventually, Vivian craves to have some interaction with her nurse and creates a fake little emergency that brings the nurse to her. Through-out the conversation that follows, Vivian drastically changes from being a scholar to feeling like a child because of her pain...

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