Bearing: a Meaningful Life
by Danyale Nabors-Washington

To live life to the fullest requires one to be hardworking, and determined. While having the determination to achieve, it is important to be mindful that life is not all
work - there should be time for other things. In Margaret Edson's play, Wit , cancer patient Vivian Bearing fits the profile of one that has lived life to the fullest when it comes to working and knowledge. However, ``the fullest'' is a wide range of achievements depending on the person. As stated by the great E.M Ashford, ``the effort must be total for the results to be meaningful,'' and this is why Bearing is a tragic hero. The statement simply implies that if one wants a life that is meaningful, it is essential to work hard to achieve desired goals. Vivian Bearing is indeed a woman of noble stature but has allowed it to take time from the other side of her life - the life outside of work.

According to the Aristotelian archetype, a tragic hero is a character of noble stature and has greatness. To be great often implies that one has accomplished tasks unlikely for others to achieve. Vivian Bearing said, ``I am, after all, a scholar of Donne's Holy Sonnets, which explore morality in greater depth than any other body of work in the English language'' (2185). She has worked hard enough to become a scholar in one of the toughest parts of poetry. She goes on to say, ``And I know for a fact I am tough A demanding professor, Uncompromising, Never one to turn from a challenge.'' This is exactly why she has chosen to study . Bearing even gives herself ``a round of applause'' when she says, ``I have made an immeasurable contribution to the discipline of English literature'' (2187). Bearing's hard work to become a scholar of seventeenth-century poetry is ``immeasurable'' because of all the time and effort she has put into it. As determined, ``the effort must be total for the results to be meaningful''(2186).

While in college, Bearing took Professor Ashford's literature class, which was a hard course. Bearing was given an assignment about interpreting a poem and the asked to ``do it again,'' by Ashford. She said that Bearing had ``entirely missed the point of the poem``(2186). Bearing being obsessed with the gaining of knowledge said, ``I'll go back to the library and rewrite the paper'' (2186). Ashford said,''Don't go back to the library. Go out, enjoy yourself with your friends'' (2186). Understand that Ashford, being the scholar she is, thought that it was important for Bearing to enjoy life outside of work, but every tragic hero has a flaw. Bearing's is the unbalanced view of work and play. While it is important for effort to be to total, one's life must be balanced.

The gaining of knowledge only adds greatness to one's profile. As determined, Bearing is fascinated with the gaining of knowledge. Although the findings of her cancer were not so appealing, maybe Bearing can bear to contribute to Dr Kelekian's knowledge. Kelekian said, ``This treatment is the strongest thing we have to offer you. And as research, it will make a significant contribution to our knowledge'' (2185). This line was the key line in ``selling'' the experiment. The treatment being the strongest was satisfying to Bearing's ears because she has a passion for completing tasks at the hardest level .``You must be very tough Do you think you can be very tough,'' Kelekian said (2185). Bearing replied, ``You needn't worry'' (2185). Bearing told Kelekian not to worry because she is indeed a tough woman, and she would absolutely love to be a contribution to the gaining of knowledge.

Bearing's downfall is her fault. Even as a child, Bearing was obsessed with increasing her knowledge. Her fascination with learning started very young, about five years old ``Sop - or - fic Sop - or - I - fic, Soporific What does that mean,'' said five year old Vivian Bearing (2198). Her father replied, ``Soporific,causing sleep''(2198) The only scene with her father is of her learning - not out at the park tossing a frisbee Vivian said,''The illustration bore out the meaning of the word, just as he had explained it. At the time, it seemed like magic''(2199). Reading and learning ``seemed like magic'' to Vivian instead of a real magic trick. This is an explanation for why she was so obsessed with learning - ``it seemed like magic'' to her.

Cancer is one of the most unwanted diseases. When Bearing discovered that she had cancer, it came as a surprise. Dr Kelekian said, ``You have cancer''(2183). ``See Unforgettable It was something of a shock I had to sit down,'' replied Bearing (2183) Not only was she diagnosed with cancer, she had ``advanced metastatic ovarian cancer'' and it was in the final stage - stage four. Bearing had gone three full stages of cancer and had just found out because she had not balanced time enough to get a check up. Knowing her mother died of cancer, she should have been going to the doctor at least once a year ``My mother, slowly, when I was forty-one and forty-two, of cancer Breast cancer''(2190). Vivian was asked by Jason, ``How often do you undergo routine medical checkups''(2190). She replied, ``Well, not as often as I should, probably, but I've felt fine, I really have Every three to...five years''(2190) Bearing's unbalanced time should not have resulted in cancer, but it allowed her to understand that life's time should be balanced. Lying in the hospital bed, Bearing admitted, ``I don't feel sure of myself anymore'' (2209). Lying in the hospital bed, Vivian was not sure of herself, but if this had not happened, she would not question herself at all Vivian's fall has resulted in a gain of self-knowledge and self-awareness. Her breakdown was a wake-up call that her time should have been balanced In the eyes of the readers. Bearing's self discovery was needed. It allowed her to see the things she took for granted, such as time It leaves one in the state of satisfaction rather than depression.
While it is important to live a fulfilling life, one must keep in mind that life is a gift given, but with stipulations - time being the biggest. A life that is fulfilling can be defined several ways, depending on the person. Bearing was taught that, ``the effort must be total for the results to be meaningful.'' That lesson is exactly why Bearing is a tragic hero ``Meaningful'' to Bearing is knowledge, not variety Vivian Bearing stuck to one area of study, gave forth total effort, and her results were highly meaningful - to her.