Binary Oppositions in Wit

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There are many outlying themes in novels and plays that are easily seen. But what makes these plays or novels to be an even more interesting read is underlying themes, or oppositions. To take something from the surface is easy, any author or director would say the same thing. After reading the play Wit there seems to be much outlying binary opposition in the play that seemed to be intended. Look a little deeper and there seems to be even more, almost as if not intended by the director. Two people or ideas clashing against one another are what make this particular play fascinating. Either way intended or not intended they are present and they are what make the play so interesting and very important to the plot.

The first binary opposition, which may be the most important, is Vivian v Vivian, basically pre-cancer treatment and post-cancer treatment. Before she was diagnosed with cancer and even started the treatment we could see from the flashbacks that Vivian was not as involved in herself as she was in her occupation. Never took time to relax and enjoy what she was doing. Its not safe to say that she could relax and enjoy herself after the cancer treatment, but she was much more involved with her own feelings than she was in the beginning. She used to be this hard-nosed teacher that everybody feared, stern. By the end of the play she was completely vulnerable and definitely not the hard-nosed stern dictator of a professor she used to be. She was literally crying for her mother, the treatment broke her down to her most vulnerable state and I’m sure it would do that to anybody. But the important point here is that Vivian was a changed person in the end and what is learned from this is that if she took more interest in herself and her own health, maybe none of it would have happened.

The main binary opposition in this play would obviously be life v death. Vivian, whose death is inevitable chooses the most intensive cancer treatment possible, the...
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