I recently read for a literature class the play “W;t” by Margaret Edson.
And it was intense ….
The first time I read it, I remember chuckling at the sassy lines of Vivian as she dished out her annoyance onto the unwitting medical staff.
The second time I read it, I was shocked at how Vivian was treated by the medical staff. They called her research. Left her exposed. They refused to acknowledge her as a human being.
The third time I read it, I was entranced by the John Donne’s poetry that Vivian uses to cope with her diagnosis.
Each new reading of the tactful lines that spill out of the page, turns over a new leaf of fascination. However, one thing that is still shocking after every read is the lack of empathy. The lack of empathy the staff has toward Vivian who is suffering from cancer. The lack of empathy Vivian has toward the medical staff trying to find a cure for her cancer. In the end, your heart cries for everyone in the play because they have become numb against empathy. It almost seems like only one person kept some level of empathy.
I kind of wish I saw actors portraying the lines and actions because I think the shocking images would be more apparent. You can’t help but be moved by not something you have only read but now see before you. This play causes such a knee jerking reaction in the audience. It is no surprise that “W;t” won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999, but that is not why I wish for you to read this.
I want you to read this because empathy is fading in the world. We can see evidence of this on the news as acts of violence become more prevalent. Medical students struggle to connect with patients. More words of ignorance, intolerance, and hate can be found on the web. I think we need something to shock empathy back into our lives. I feel like the increase of empathy could reverse our fate and maybe bring a brighter future for us.