Death is a comma. A pause.

183478 Last Thursday, our group in Ethics class presented a movie that tackles about the end of life issues. It is entitled Wit. The movie was introduced to me by my friend Faye long before the presentation so I already have an idea what it's all about. It's directed by Mike Nichols, which stars Emma Thompson as Vivian Bearing.

Vivian Bearing is an English Literature professor suffering through Stage IV ovarian cancer. She agreed to undergo experimental treatment despite already having an advanced stage of cancer. The treatment didn't make her well but rather making her increasingly ill together with the treatment's various and intensive side effects.

She knows she's going to die. As she go towards the end of her life, she realized that kindness is something she should have exhibited to more people; because she was a hard professor before. In her time of greatest need, she learned that human compassion was of more profound importance than intellectual wit.


Despite Vivian's stringent attitude and emotional-detachment towards her students, I pity her because she was abused by unethical doctors. At the very start of the movie, there were already a lot of violations regarding bioethics. Our professor even said

What would people think if they see this movie? They would probably think that doctors are blatantly bastos (rude)!

So let me enumerate the things that I think are unethical in the movie.

First, about her oncologist. Dr. Kalekian didn’t detail her about the numerous side effects of the experimental drug. He also didn’t give her options for treatment. She is in Stage IV ovarian cancer and I think that palliative treatment is the best management and not chemotherapy because she's already in an advanced stage. There was an informed consent but she wasn’t given the chance to read and think meticulously before entering the course. Obviously, He is more concerned with the research than his patient.

Second, the resident doctor. Dr. Posner was her former student when he was still in his pre-med. He was still bitter on how hard his professor was on him during college. She gave him an A- (I think t’was already a bad grade for him) which adds up to his perceptible resentment. He was deliberately rude while taking her history and doing the physical examination especially during the pelvic exam; he has no concern about his patient. He also lacks bedside manners and violated almost all the ethical principles; beneficence, nonmaleficence, you name it! Just like like his boss; both of them are just concerned about the research and not the patient. There's even this scene wherein he tried reviving Vivian in spite of her DNR status for the sake of their study.

Lastly, the hospital. Hospital people are impolite especially in the ER, except for the nurse Susie. She was the only one who took good care or Vivian. If they ever mentioned the hospital’s name in the movie, people will probably not go there when they need medical help because of how terrible the hospital was featured. Our professor’s right about the movie, it gives the viewers an impression of how bad doctors and medical staffs can be.


The moral of the story? In the movie, Vivian has used her wit as a shield to carry her through life, but these are of little value in the face of death. At one point, she even feared death. So people, be kind to others. Human compassion is of more profound importance than intellectual wit.

Overall? Wit is a powerful drama about dying and death that will soften the heart of anyone who sees it.

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2 remark(s):

Anonymous said...

power intoxicates. in her case, her wit is her power - power over her students and power over less intelligent individuals. like many people in such situations, her over-confidence (and arrogance) made her forget the value compassion.

KC said...

This is interesting. I'd like to watch this somethime. Thanks for this post. :)

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