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Smart people are vulnerable, too!

Wit -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)
"And I was dismayed to discover that the play would contain elements of...humor."

I really love this play. Part of why I love it is the fact that it has a lot of humor. I would almost classify it as a comedy, but it's weird because it's about a woman dying from cancer. But that's what's so great about it: it could easily have become a tear-jerky Lifetime movie, but Vivian's dry wit overcomes all of the potential clichés of the situation. Even when her conversation with Susie about her code status starts to become sentimental, she immediately calls the scene "a maudlin display." She always seems so in control and funny, and so when she does have moments of vulnerability, such as when E.M. Ashford visits her and she just simply says, "I feel so bad," it's all the more powerful. This is a really good example of how humor can be used to make very powerful drama. Because Vivian always has a witty comeback, you start to forget how sad it is that she has no one to visit her and it hits you even harder when this fact becomes apparent. This whole play is just so skillful, and it's amazing that Margaret Edson hasn't written a play before this and never wrote one since. It's just so smart and funny and powerful, and...goshdarnit, I wish I could play Vivian! Oh, well.

Comments (2)


It must be so much fun reading plays that, heck you could be starring in!! haha I really enjoyed this play too, and I agree with you completely. I almost felt bad at times laughing, while Vivian progressively got worse and died. But all the same, her wit was beyond amazing and if it were just a Lifetime movie, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it so much.

Though I didn't realize it until I read your entry, you're right. The humor did make it more powerful. I guess it's because she always seems so strong when she makes the witty comments, that we almost forget how bad things truly are for her. When her safety wall cracks even just a little bit, we get to realize the full impact everything is having on her.

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