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Comparative Study - Despite the differences in context, a comparative study of the poetry of John Donne and Margaret Edsons play, W;t, is essential for a more complete understanding of the values and ideas presented in W;t.

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Introduction

Despite the differences in context, a comparative study of the poetry of John Donne and Margaret Edson's play, 'W;t', is essential for a more complete understanding of the values and ideas presented in 'W;t'. Discuss this with close reference to both texts. When deconstructing the text 'W;t', by Margaret Edson, a comparative study of the poetry of John Donne is necessary for a better conceptual understanding of the values and ideas presented in Edson's 'W;t'. Through this comparative study, the audience is able to develop an extended understanding of the ideas surrounding death. This is achieved through the use of the semi-colon in the dramas title, 'W;t'. Edson also uses juxtapositions and the literary device, wit, to shape and reshape the meaning of the drama when studied in alliance to the poetry of John Donne. This alliance has been strengthened by the parallel of Vivian Bearing's and Donne's interpretation of life, death and eternal life. This enables the responder to recognise the higher concepts of death and its meaning. Both the play and the poems explore the higher aspects of the human condition: life, death and god; however from vastly different perspectives due to the authors differing contexts. Donne, a 17th century poet, was placed in a society where religious beliefs were dominant and most individuals were confident in their belief of life after death. ...read more.

Middle

The main theme explored in 'W;t' is life and death, and the connection between them. Vivian has dedicated her life to being a scholar of Donne's holy sonnets and is therefore an expert on human morality, however whilst in hospital, her view on life changes. On pages seven and eight, Vivian's professor, Professor E.M. Ashford is explaining to Vivian how a semi-colon in place of a comma can alter the true meaning of the holy sonnet, 'Death Be Not Proud'. Ashford shows Vivian how "Nothing but a breath - a comma - separates life from life everlasting". This is symbolic of how Vivian misinterprets death, reflected back in the title where there is a semi-colon in place of the letter 'I'. Later on in the drama, Vivian's view on life changes through Susie's kindness. Throughout her whole life, Vivian has been in total control and is now placed in a situation where she has no control. Throughout the whole time Vivian is in hospital, Vivian is learning about herself and accepting the emptiness of human contact within her life, which is highlighted through Vivian's realisation, "now is a time for...kindness." The lack of control is a new experience for Vivian thus making Vivian retreat into simplicity. Through the use of the symbolism of the Popsicle as simplicity and Susie's kindness paired with the quote, "Now is a time for simplicity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Donne's poetry is all Vivian has had throughout her life and all flashbacks related to the poetry of Donne. Starting from the initial rejection by Professor Ashford; "Go out and enjoy yourself with friends. Hmm?"; and continuing until the last flashback of teaching Donne's poetry; "How would you characterise the animating force of this sonnet?" However, metaphysical conceit exists in the idea that the points of a compass never meet. This connecting to the idea that Vivian is unable to achieve true happiness through Donne, thus Vivian yearns for human engagement and connection therefore longing for kindness and human comfort which she couldn't achieve through Donne. When conducting a study of Margaret Edson's drama, 'W;t', the central themes and values of ideas explored are limited to the understanding of the one text, being 'W;t'. However, to achieve a greater conceptual understanding of the values and ideas represented in the drama, and the effect they take on the main character, Vivian Bearing, a comparative study of the poetry of John Donne in alliance with the drama 'W;t' is essential. This allows the reader to better understand the use of the literary device wit and the intertextualisation of Donne's poetry in the drama and leaves the responder viewing the whole picture. I believe studying only the drama is similar to covering half the television screen, you are only getting half of the bigger picture. ...read more.

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