Wit. Character Purpose

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In “Wit” all of the main characters serve very specific purposes to the story. Dr. Kelekian, Dr. Jason Poser, Susie, and even Vivian herself all have distinct purposes in the play. Each character has a scene that seems dedicated to reveal their purpose in Vivian’s ordeal. Vivian’s key scene comes when she speaks with her old mentor and realizes what she’s been lacking in her life.

First, is Dr. Harvey Kelekian, his purpose is shown in the very first scene, while giving Vivian her diagnosis. In the scene, it is made apparent that both Vivian and Dr. Kelekian are of a scholarly mindset. Vivian has extensively studied the very complex and difficult to understand Holy Sonnets of John Donne, and Kelekian is a cancer researcher. Though they study in different fields, their approach is pretty much the same; they are both very thorough in the research. They have immense passion for learning and obtaining knowledge. They are both teachers in very difficult to understand fields, and they both sometimes forget that not everyone can understand their advanced terminology. For example, when Kelekian is diagnosing Vivian, he uses a slew of medical terminology that no regular person would understand and thinks nothing of it. Kelekian is a sort of kindred spirit for Vivian, a fellow scholar.

Dr. Jason Posner is another one of Vivian’s doctors, but also a former student of hers. He is a brilliant young doctor when it comes to the practice of medicine, but has yet to develop his people skills. He is so caught up in his research that he often forgets that his patients are people, not just data. Vivian sees a lot of herself in Jason. Vivian at one point asks Jason why he chose to study cancer. Jason replies that its “awesome.” He tells her that it’s the complexity of it, more or less, the desire to understand something that is so complex, much like Vivian in her study of Donne. Neither Jason nor Vivian completely understands their fields of study, but still they...
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