Wit Themes

Themes and Meanings (Survey of Dramatic Literature)

By drawing parallels between the world of academe and the world of medicine, Margaret Edson demonstrates that there are many ways for professionals to isolate inadvertently those they purport to serve. Clearly, hospital patients, no matter what their status in society, are lost amid the corridors of machinery, operating suites, and examination rooms. Further, patients are unable to comprehend some of the most basic information about their condition; the language that is clear to physicians evokes terror in those unable to break the code. What is important to note, however, is that Edson intends her viewers to see that all who are caught up in matters of self-interest are cutting themselves off from others, weaving a cocoon of isolation that will eventually choke off their own humanity.

It may be easy to see Wit as an indictment of the medical profession. The doctors who treat Vivian consider her more an object for scientific study than a human being facing the inevitability of her own death. Repeatedly, Kelekian and Posner stress the importance of their treatments as a means of gathering data for their research. Both treat Vivian with condescension and occasional disdain. Neither seems to have time to comfort her or allay her fears.

A careful review reveals, however, that it is not simply the medical profession that Edson criticizes. Vivian and her mentor, E. M. Ashford, are as arrogant with their students as the doctors are with...

(The entire section is 560 words.)

Wit Themes

Death
In the first moments of the play, Vivian Bearing proclaims to the audience, "I think I die at the end." The fact...

(The entire section is 821 words.)