Wit And Donne : The Idea Of Human Truth

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Wit and Donne: The Idea of Human Truth
“I have cancer. Insidious cancer, with pernicious side effects…[And] it appears to be a matter, as the saying goes…of life and death” (00:05:45-00:06:17). This was said by Dr. Vivian Bearing, the main character of Wit, a 2001 movie directed by Mike Nichols. In this movie, Vivian is a professor in seventeenth century poetry, specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne and is slowly dying of advanced ovarian cancer. The film itself serves as an epic, in which the director uses the poetry of John Donne to elucidate the meaning behind her irrevocably inevitable death. Within the movie, Vivian recites several of Donne’s poems, which further lends explanation behind the occurrences within the film. …show more content…

That thou remember them, some claim as debt;
I think it mercy, if thou wilt forget. (lines 9-14) This is part of the sestet from Donne’s poem, “If poisonous minerals,” in which he writes about his sins and his need for God’s mercy. The speaker basically says “Who am I to question you, God? And, from the blood of Jesus and my tears, make a pool, so my sins will drown and be forgiven. Some people may say that it is in debt to you, that you will remember these sins. But, I believe that true mercy is if you will forget.” This concept, of apprehension behind the speaker’s sins and the desperate need for God’s mercy, is further solidified in the film. For, Vivian looks back on her past and reexamines how she denied one of her student’s an act of human kindness. In her memory, one of her students stayed after class and asked for an extension on his paper. The student explained that his grandmother had recently died, and he needed to go home to his family. However, she bluntly responded, “Do what you will, but the paper is due when it is due.” As a result of guilt for her actions, Vivian cannot bring herself to fully accept her regret and begins to feel extremely apprehensive: “I 'm scared. I want... I want to... No! I want to hide. I just want to curl up in a little ball” (01:11:01-01:01:11:09). This displays to the viewer her need for

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