Compassion And Austerity In Margaret Edson's Wit

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In Margaret Edson’s Wit, the author uses the binary opposition of compassion and austerity. The protagonist, Vivian Bearing, a doctor of English, learns that she has advanced ovarian cancer, and undergoes an experimental chemotherapy program. Her doctor, Jason, and her nurse, Susie, have different views of her mortality, and the author shows their contrasting views in a particular scene. While Susie shows a more compassionate side to Vivian, Jason is very stern with her. Jason faces the inevitable with no hesitation and though Susie can as well, she also comforts Vivian. Even though Vivian seems to be very passive, both compassion and austerity impact her in a different way because austerity leads to being scared and compassion leads to being…show more content…
At the very end of the play, when Vivian’s cancer wins, Jason goes into a frenzy trying to resuscitate her. When Susie enters the room she frantically tries to remind him that she is a no code and does not wish to be brought back. Jason doesn’t listen and tells Susie that Vivian is research. In this scene Susie is trying to abide by Vivian’s wishes while Jason is trying to save his data, which is how he sees Vivian. In this scene, the author once again illustrates Jason and Susie’s same attitudes. Susie still shows compassion even though Vivian is no longer alive to witness it. Yet Jason still does not show any compassion towards Vivian.
So it is clear that although Vivian is very restrained, both compassion and austerity impact her in different ways. First, Jason being so austere, can lead to Vivian being scared of death. However Susie is very compassionate which can lead to Vivian being comfortable and able to accept her mortality. Both Susie’s and Jason’s attitudes towards Vivian stay consistent throughout the play. The playwright uses both of the characters to impact Vivian in different ways. Although Vivian never comes out and says it, it is understood by the reader that both Jason and Susie’s attitudes impacted her under tragic
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