Play Analysis: Angels in America

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  • Topic: The Voyage, Plays, AIDS
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  • Published : February 18, 2013
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Carter O’Leary
Angels In America Essay
Rabbi Chemelwitz says in his eulogy (Millennium) that the "Great Voyages" of the past no longer exist. Does the play bear out the truth of his belief or not? If not, what are the new great voyages?

Tony Kushner’s play, Angels In America, explores the trials of the journey of human life through the development of his characters throughout the play. When Rabbi Chemelwitz says “Great Voyages is this world do not any more exist.” (Millennium 16) he speaks only the partial truth. It is true that none of the characters at the funeral can make the same kind of trip Sarah Ironson made, the pilgrimage from her home to a foreign land across the Atlantic. However, the voyage to America Sarah took and the various struggles the characters face have many parallels. Instead of the physical trials of Sarah’s great voyage, they are faced with equally as difficult emotional problems that cause them to make certain choices in the great voyage of their lives. Every character faces some psychological journey throughout the play that takes them to new places emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The best example of all three of these journeys is Prior’s development through the play.

Prior’s great voyage is the most obvious and widely explained of any of the characters in the play. We first meet Prior at what he knows is a turning point in his life: telling Louis he has AIDS. He says “K.S. baby. Lesion number one.” (27) telling Louis he is going to die. This is clearly an immensely difficult decision or Prior because he then goes on to say how afraid he is that Louis will leave him. This is the first real step in Prior’s “great voyage.” Everything else that happens to Prior is a result of this one act. The most immediate and drastic change brought about by this decision is that Louis confirms Prior’s fears and leaves him. After Louis leaves, Prior is thrown into a deep state of depression. His emotional struggle at this point is a...
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