compare in both plots, the author refers frequently to smells. Explain how the descriptions of smells differ in each plot. How do these differences affect the tone of each plot?



Margaret Edson wrote this play just before she entered graduate school and became a teacher. The play bounced around for years before the South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa, California gave it a reading and several more before it was produced off-Broadway and became a hit and won the Pulitzer Prize. Edson wrote the story based on a year she spent working in a cancer ward of a hospital as a twenty-two year old and based Vivian’s character both on a woman she met during that time and a woman scholar of Donne who worked at Oxford University, Helen Gardner. She herself knew little or nothing about John Donne’s poetry before she began her research for this play. Today, after years of teaching kindergarten, Edson teaches sixth grade social studies in Atlanta, Georgia.

1. Write well-developed paragraphs in response to the questions. Please use at supporting detail from the play:

“The image of a soul in meditation which the Holy Sonnets present is an image of a soul working out its salvation in fear and trembling.”—Helen Gardner, John Donne: The Divine Poems

Make an argument for Vivian Bearing in Wit working out her salvation in “fear and trembling” (or, to put it another way, “scared out of her wits”). From what does Vivian appear to need saving? Of what particular aspects of death and dying is she fearful? Why?

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc-yx0HowuA&feature=youtu.be

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eucAdWW-4HM&feature=youtu.be

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