Angels in America

Angels in America

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The Bethesda Fountain Symbol Analysis

The Bethesda Fountain Symbol Icon

At the end of the play, we learn that the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park was inspired by another Bethesda Fountain, in Jerusalem. According to legend, the angel Bethesda blessed the fountain, so that all sick people could bathe there and cure their afflictions. After the Romans sacked Jerusalem, the fountain stopped working—but some people believe that when God comes to Earth, the fountain will flow again. By ending his play with this “prophecy,” Kushner establishes a tone of uncertainty and yet optimism. The notion of “curing the sick” has obvious relevance to the AIDS victims in the play—and in this sense, the characters’ prayer that the Bethesda Fountain will one day flow again symbolizes their hope that they’ll one day be cured of AIDS, or be able to live with AIDS, unafraid.

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The Bethesda Fountain Symbol Timeline in Angels in America

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Bethesda Fountain appears in Angels in America. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Perestroika: Act 4, Scene 3
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Progressivism, Conservatism, and Change Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
We’re at the Bethesda Fountain —the huge angel statue in Central Park. Belize stands with Louis, and Louis notes that... (full context)
Epilogue
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Progressivism, Conservatism, and Change Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
It is 1990, and Prior, Louis, Belize, and Hannah sit by the Bethesda Fountain , talking about the recent fall of the Berlin Wall. Louis claims that Mikhail Gorbachev... (full context)
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Progressivism, Conservatism, and Change Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
...fountain turned dry forever. Louis then “taps in” Belize to explain the history of the fountain of Bethesda : before the Romans sacked Jerusalem, suffering people could bathe in the fountain of Bethesda... (full context)
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Progressivism, Conservatism, and Change Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
...tell the audience about the Millennium. When the “true” Millennium comes—not just the year 2000—the fountain of Bethesda will run again in Jerusalem. When this happens, Hannah will take her friends to bathe... (full context)
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Progressivism, Conservatism, and Change Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
...Prior steps forward from his friends and addresses the audience directly. He says that the Bethesda Fountain in New York is cold and gray now, but he’ll live to see it in... (full context)