Throughout Margaret Edson’s post modern drama, a plethora of implicit and explicit connections to John Donne’s metaphysical poetry are illuminated through the characterisation of Vivian Bearing as she lives through Donne. John Donne has been abducted to the sterilized academic world of ‘publish or perish’, along with the myriad central values of enduring themes that engulf the audience due to their prevailing ability to transcend contextual barriers. The connections shared between Donne’s metaphysical poetry and Edson’s play Wit, occupies more than the adaptation of ideas and form, it represents the relationship between text and context. Wit reshapes Donne’s experiences of agency and self evaluation, thereby rejuvenating the humanistic paradigms of the Jacobean period within her secular context. Thus the reciprocal values of these texts which explore the depth of life, death, relationships, and the central role that language play in the discourse of reality; transcend contextual limitations, their connotations immortalised, and remains ever relevant.
‘I am a professor of seventeenth-century poetry, specialising in the holy sonnets of John Donne’ ‘I know all about life and death. I am after all a scholar of Donne’s Holy Sonnets, which explore mortality in greater depth than any other’ states Vivian Bearing. But the true sense of reality can’t survive the values of life’s thematic concerns through academic rigour. Therefore Edson uses postmodern techniques such as Absurdist theatre, which challenges realist theatre conventions and thereby confronts audiences with the reality of death: ‘It is not my intention to give away the plot, but I think I die at the end.’ This theatrical opening highlights her deprivation of experiences of love and her curious interest in Donne’s contrasting experiences through his poems: ‘but of Donne’s own God, of the faith that makes his work riveting... no place can be found in (Bearing’s) personal experience.’ Bearing’s lack of...
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