Play of Protest, a Play of American Term Paper

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Play of Protest, a Play of American Identity: Tony Kushner's 1993 "Angels in America"

"Angels in America" by Tony Kushner is a kind of theatrical protest piece of the postmodern American age of fragmented identity. The construction of the play weaves different forms of modern American culture, such as Jewish assimilation, gay rights and religion, the anti-communism of the past era, and the Republican politics of the present, into a singular narrative. However, by doing so, it also suggests that, no matter how fragmented Americans may be by their politics, there is a cohesive humanity that unites America together, under the common guiding vision of the same angel. By blurring time and space over the course of the play's progression, the play creates connections between lonely and socially disconnected characters. In doing so, the play suggests that America is less segregated than the audience may be initially apt to think.

The suggestion that America is a seamless fabric of interrelated issues, rather than a patchwork of identities, is first suggested in the opening monologue of the rabbi, who is administering the funeral of an elderly Jewish woman. The rabbi speaks of the assimilation of the Jewish woman's children and the struggles of the woman's ancestors to make it in America.
Although the rabbi rather cynically says that in the American melting pot nothing truly melts, the stories of the different characters do intersect, if only in dreams, during the course of the play.

For example, the gay man Louis learns that his lover Prior has AIDS, and he abandons him. Joe, a gay Mormon lawyer, abandons his wife Harper. Harper is a Valium addict, and at one point in the play Harper and Prior meet in a dream, because both of them have been abandoned, and both of them are suffering because they love selfish people who cannot love them back. Common tragedy and dreams unite disconnected people in America; despite the fact they come from different social groups and have different religious affiliations.

This meeting also suggests, of course, that gay men and women should not be excluded from the fabric of America, anymore than holy people such as the Mormons. Suffering is similar, only prejudice keeps people apart. However, the cruelty of Louis towards his lover Parker also shows that gay people are not necessarily morally superior to straight people -- any more than religious people or Republicans are better or more American than their gay counterparts.….....

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