“Meaning-of-life Garbage”

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From Margaret Edson's Wit:

“Vivian: So.  The young doctor, like the senior scholar, prefers research to humanity.  At the same time the senior scholar, in her pathetic state as a simpering victim, wishes the young doctor would take more interest in personal contact.

                Now I suppose we shall see, through a series of flashbacks, how the senior scholar ruthlessly denied her simpering students the touch of human kindness she now seeks” (Edson 47-8).

Facing death makes one contemplate.  In this case, Dr. Bearing (Vivian) is regretting her lack of compassion for her former students.  She begins to understand how it must have felt for them.  She relates to Jason and Dr. Kelekian, they are scholars like her after all.  Yet, they, like her, have chosen to distance themselves from humanity—Dr. Bearing by constantly analyzing Donne (or going through one of her old lectures again), the doctors by focusing more on their research than the patients themselves.  It is the nurse, Susie, who is portrayed as unintelligent and witless, who comforts Dr. Bearing and respects her wishes.  In Wit, it’s almost as if there is a correlation between kindness and less mental capacity.  Maybe, Jason is right when he said “…you can’t think about that meaning-of-life garbage all the time or you’d go nuts” (Edson 61); however, Dr. Bearing seems pretty sane to me, right up to the end.          

4 Comments

Maddie Gillespie said:

As I was reading, I remember thinking along the same lines as your blog above. There have been countless times when I wished that I might walk through life deaf, blind, and stupid. I mean, you would never hear harsh words, see the terrible destruction that man can bring to bear against his fellow man, and you would most likely always be happy. What a life, hmm? Perhaps it is the curse of sound, sight, and intelligence to be tormented by such things. After all, without them we would never have anything to measure goodness against. But would I actually wish to be without hearing, sight, and the few bits of wit that I've got? No. No without hesitation. I suppose I just have to keep reminding myself to always foster that bit of human compassion and not to distance myself so far from others. Great blog!

Tiffany Gilbert said:

You're right, she was analyzing her lectures and wishing she had been more compassionate to them. It was just another phase of her "fearless" journey. You see several places when she starts to fall apart and realistically, that is okay, but she never saw it that way.

:(

Greta, I have to disagree with your point about the correlation between kindness and less mental capacity. In the last scene of the play, the Code Team all speak in very brief, simplistic sentences. They show no more (probably less) intelligence than Susie and about as much care for the patient as the rest of the doctors. You can check out my blog about it.

Greta Carroll said:

I can see what you are saying Jessie, but I still think there is a correlation. You bring up an interesting point though, I commented more on my thoughts on your blog:
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JessieFarine/2008/04/code_blue_for_humanity_wait_be.html

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