Topics: Medicine, Physician, Health care Pages: 4 (1010 words) Published: June 27, 2014

Literary Analysis of Drama Essay

In the play “Wit,” playwright Margaret Edson depicts the medical profession, with the exception of nurses, as demeaning, cold, inhumane, and lacking compassion. The irony of the play, the once researcher who now becomes the object of another’s research, is the major theme and source of conflict. Edson, either intentionally or unintentionally, points out the major flaws of the medical profession, particularly physicians, by the use of sarcasm and countless wisecracks. As the play moves forward, Edson reveals the crucial impact that empathy, or lack of, has on the physician-patient relationship.

The main character, Dr. Vivian Bearing, who was once a “tough,” dedicated and brilliant scholar of seventeenth-century English poetry, finds herself diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and is subject to a flurry of confusing medical tests. She struggles to deal with the depersonalizing effects of her medical care.

“Wit” opens with Dr. Vivian Bearing looking at the audience and says: “Hi. How are you feeling today? Great. That’s just great.” (5). Dr. Bearing’s address to the audience is a sarcastic mocking of the daily, automatic and endless greetings she hears from the medical professionals assigned to her case. She continues to say: "This is not my standard greeting, I assure you. I tend toward something a little more formal, a little less inquisitive, such as, say, 'Hello.' But it is the standard greeting here" (5). In this act, Edson “opens the door” to a medical team long on wisdom, but short on empathy.

Dr. Vivian Bearing continues to struggle with being in a position of inferiority and being stripped of her professional status as she is transported in an obligatory wheelchair from one test to another even though she can still walk. This degrading interaction takes place in a conversation between Dr. Vivian Bearing and an x-ray technician: TECHNICIAN 1: Doctor.

VIVIAN: Yes, I have a Ph.D.
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