Margaret Edson

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Wit makes teaching easy.

Vivian Bearing, Ph.D.

Vivian is a fifty-year-old professor of English who specializes in the metaphysical poetry of John Donne. She has stage-four ovarian cancer, and she is the play’s narrator and protagonist. As a professor, she is infamously… read analysis of Vivian Bearing, Ph.D.

Harvey Kelekian, M.D.

A fifty-year-old chief of medical oncology at the University Hospital. He oversees Vivian’s care as well as Jason’s medical fellowship. He and Vivian share a similar unrelenting work ethic and passion for knowledge… read analysis of Harvey Kelekian, M.D.

Jason Posner, M.D.

A twenty-eight-year-old medical fellow in Dr. Kelekian’s oncology unit who is charged with directing much of Vivian’s care. Coincidentally, he was once a student of Vivian’s while he was an undergraduate; he challenged… read analysis of Jason Posner, M.D.

Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N.

The twenty-eight-year-old primary nurse in the Dr. Kelekian’s oncology unit who administers much of Vivian’s care. Unlike her peers, she is not academically minded, though she is an excellent nurse. She prioritizes Vivian’s… read analysis of Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N.

E. M. Ashford, D. Phil.

An eighty-year-old, now-retired professor of English literature who was Vivian’s mentor in graduate school. E. M. inspired Vivian to pursue the study of John Donne’s poetry and fostered her unrelenting work ethic. She always… read analysis of E. M. Ashford, D. Phil.
Get the entire Wit LitChart as a printable PDF.
Minor Characters
Mr. Bearing
Vivian’s father, who teaches her how to read. He appears very briefly in one of Vivian’s flashbacks. He is played by the same actor as Dr. Kelekian, suggesting a similarity in their characters—perhaps in their sense of professional detachment and rigorous intellectual standards.
They staff the oncology unit and attend to Vivian during her various tests and treatments. The actors who play the technicians double as Vivian’s students, the code team, and the clinical fellows.
Vivian’s students at the university, who appear in a series of flashbacks showing how strict and unforgiving she was as a professor. The actors who play the students double as the lab technicians, the code team, and the clinical fellows.
The Code Team
The team called in to try and resuscitate Vivian. They ignore Susie’s demands to stop until Jason finally yells that he made a mistake. The actors who play the code team double as Vivian’s students, the lab technicians, and the clinical fellows.
Clinical Fellows
The young doctors-in-training under Dr. Kelekian. Jason is a fellow as well, but he distinguishes himself from the rest and they resent him for this. The actors who play the fellows double as Vivian’s students, the lab technicians, and the code team.