I can't believe my life has become so...

Vivian Bearing, Ph.D


See more monologues from Margaret Edson


Age Range
Act 1, Scene 1 (It is one continuous play)
Time & Place
University Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center, Present Day
Time Period
Show Type

Monologue Context

Vivian Bearing, an accomplished professor of seventeenth-century English literature

Monologue Text

I can't believe my life has become so... corny. But it can't be helped. I don't see any other way. We are discussing life and death, and not in the abstract, either; we are discussing my life and my death, and my brain is dulling, and poor Susie's was never very sharp to begin with, and I can't conceive of any other... tone.

(Quickly.) Now is not the time for verbal swordplay, for unlikely flights of imagination and wildly shifting perspectives, for metaphysical conceit, for wit. And nothing would be worse than a detailed scholarly analysis. Erudition. Interpretation. Complication.

(Slowly.) Now is a time for simplicity. Now is a time for, dare I say it, kindness.

(Searchingly.) I thought being extremely smart would take care of it. But I see that I've been found out. Ooohhh.

I'm scared. Oh, God. I want... I want... No. I want to hide. I just want to curl up into a little ball. (She dives under the covers. Scene change. Vivian wakes in horrible pain. She is tense, agitated, fearful. Slowly, she calms down and addresses the audience. Trying extremely hard.) I want to tell you how it feels. I want to explain it, to use my words. It's as if... I can't... There aren't... I'm like a student and this is the final exam and I don't know what to put down because I don't understand the question and I'm running out of time. (Pause.) The time for extreme measures has come. I am in terrible pain. Susie says that I need to begin aggressive pain management if I am going to stand it. "It": such a little word. In this case, I think "it" signifies "being alive." I apologize in advance for what this palliative treatment modality does to the dramatic coherence of my play's last scene. It can't be helped. They have to do something. I'm in terrible pain. Say it,Vivian. It hurts like hell. It really does.

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