Wit and the Anti-Hero

Vivian Bearing starts a new chapter, or journey, of life when she is diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. Her first chapter of life included being torn apart by her mentor, becoming an over exaggerated version of said mentor, and dominating her field. Vivian is the professor everyone hates; the only reason for taking her class is to boost graduate and job resumes. Her diagnosis is meant to knock her down off her pedestal and remind her of what it means to be human. However, Vivian would be better labeled as an anti-hero than a traditional hero. An anti-hero is defined as a main character that lacks the ideal characteristics of a hero. Think more Rick Grimes, less Clark Kent.

Yes, Vivian comes to terms with her morality, she learns how to admit fear and ask Susie for help, faces off her past maliciousness in the faces of supposed villains Dr. Harvey Kelekian and Dr. Jason Posner (a former student who seems delighted to degraded Vivian based on the simple fact that she did not give him an A); Vivian even has the tragic hero death. Yet, all of these things can relate to her being the anti-hero of Wit. It can also be said that Vivian was an anti-hero in her first chapter of life. A hero in her field and community who is hated for her lack of compassion, as typical quality of a hero. She recognizes that she has treated people badly in the past, but only makes a true effort with Susie. Vivian understands why Kelekian and Posner are so cold and comes to the realization that she could have been a hero had she made exceptions for students who just lost their grandmother. All of this brings us to Vivian’s death. She accepts her fate and makes the request to be put on the Do Not Resuscitate list. It is a hard decision for her as it takes away research opportunities from young scholars.

In the end Vivian is denied her true tragic hero death by Posner who is so wrapped up in his research he gives no thought to Vivian’s final wishes. Susie has to swoop in and allow Vivian the honor of her choice. It appears to the viewers to Vivian’s death and Posner’s horrific mistake will force him to become more human and more hero-like in the future. He will drop his role as a quasi-villain because of the effect Vivian had on his life as a doctor. It is here that Vivian ends her journey as the anti-hero of Wit, with a last heroic action of changing the lives of both Susie and Posner.


-Chloe Larosche

One thought on “Wit and the Anti-Hero

  1. I understood your conclusion that Vivian should be considered an anti-hero, but I came to a different conclusion. I thought, although atypical, she did display many hero-like qualities. Her journey was a mental one rather than a physical one. However, she still had to cross barriers (with the help of the nurse) and mentally navigate the rest of her short life. I think this shows the variations the “typical” hero stories can take – it doesn’t mean she is necessarily an anti-hero.

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