Books Magazine

Meaning in Suffering, Review of Margaret Edson’s “Wit”

By Crossstitchyourheart @TMNienaber

Meaning in Suffering, Review of Margaret Edson’s “Wit”Dr. Vivian Bearing is a professor of English, specializing in the poetry of John Donne.  When she is diagnosed with stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer she dives into the poetry she knows so well toMeaning in Suffering, Review of Margaret Edson’s “Wit” find relief from the pain and meaning in her suffering.  Set against a backdrop of the Holy Sonnets, particularly “Death Be Not Proud,” Vivian shares her struggle to make sense of her imminent death.  As Vivian goes through her struggle alone her doctor, Kelekian, and fellow Jason Posner (a former student of Dr. Bearing) struggle to keep her alive, not so they can heal her, but so they can continue using her as a research project even to the point of ignoring her “do not resuscitate” order.

At under one-hundred pages, Wit, is a quick play to read but loses something not being performed.  As a student of English I enjoyed the references to John Donne, but for someone less interested in early British literature the comparisons might border on the tedious.  To enjoy this play it’s important to see past the cerebral stream-of-consciousness of the professor and see the woman being faced with the end of her life.

Written beautifully, Edson brings the poetry of Donne to modern day relevance to show that death, and coming to terms with suffering, are things humanity has been trying to understand for centuries.  While the written play does this topic some justice I’d strongly recommend going to see it being performed if that’s an option for you.



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