Vivian Bearing: A Tragic Heroine that Triumph
Margaret Edison’s play Wit is about Vivian Bearing, a professor of seventeenth century poetry, specializing in John Donne. She is a strong willed intellectual being treated for ovarian cancer. Vivian lives a very secluded life and avoids human emotional contact. Just like any tragic hero, Vivian has flaws that prevent her from human kindness, which leads to her downfall. Her treatment of cancer causes her to realize that she needs emotional connection, which she has missed her whole life. Although her flaws are her intellect and wit that cause her an inability to connect emotionally with people around her, she becomes noble because she begins to express her emotions and accept kindness.
Vivian Bearing has lived an intellectual rather than emotional life. As a child, education was very important to her family. On her fifth birthday which she recalls as her best birthday she read a book (Edson 41). She would rather read a book than have a party, cake or even having friends over. Reading a book during her birthday is very ironic because she claims this to be her best birthday which is really unique, because this is horrible as any standard for a fifth birthday. Most five year olds want a party and cake. Vivian takes the book and she reads its spine intently. Reading a book attentively on her birthday proves Vivian’s obsession with learning and expanding her horizons. She is only interested in learning, not worried about connecting with people her own age or even her family. While she is reading her book, her father sits on his chair “disinterested but tolerant” (Edson 41). Since her father does not pay any attention to her, Vivian is emotionally detached from her father. She only knows education and learning. She never mentions receiving any affection as a child. This is the only time she mentions her childhood. One can only assume that because of this the character’s own remote personality reflects...
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