The Ideas Of Mortality In Margaret Edson's 'Wit'

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Inspired by the wit of John Donne’s work, Margaret Edson intends for “Wit” to confront the same themes and topics represented in Donne’s poetry. Throughout the course of the play, Edson tackles the ideas of mortality, of the anxiety of death, of suffering, and of redemption. She does this by paralleling the narrative of the play with passages of the poems, “Death be not proud”, “This is my play’s last scene”, and “If poisonous minerals be, and if that tree be.” The most significant poem Edson incorporates into “Wit” is Donne’s “Death be not proud”. Edson first introduces the poem within a conversation between Vivian and her former professor E.M. Ashford. During this scene, Ashford tries to correct Bearing’s view on the meaning of “Death be not proud”. For, Ashford states, “The sonnet begins with a valiant…show more content…
But it is ultimately about overcoming the seemingly insuperable barriers... separating life, death and eternal life.” Through Ashford’s explanation of the Donne poem, Edson reveals the lesson Vivian must learn throughout the course of the play. In order to cope with her terminal cancer, Bearing must learn that there are more aspects to life than just knowledge and wittiness. When first introduced, Vivian deals with her diagnosis and treatment through her wit. She believes that she will be perfectly able to cope with her illness through knowledge only. This can be seen in the quote, “It appears to be a matter, as the saying goes, of life and death. I know all about life and death. I am, after all, a scholar of century poetry. Specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne, which explore mortality in greater depth than any body of work in the English language.” However, as

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