Angels in America

Angels in America

Angels in America Perestroika: Act 5, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
We return to the hospital, late at night. Prior wakes up to find Hannah sitting next to him. Prior tells Hannah that the Angel of America is nearby. There are loud noises, and suddenly, the ceiling breaks open. Hannah and Prior scream at this sight. Prior yells that he’s rejecting his mission from the Angel.
Prior again summons the courage to reject the Angel’s mission, strengthened by Hannah’s support. The fact that Hannah can see the Angel as well further complicates the issue of whether or not it’s just a hallucination of Prior’s.
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
Hannah tells Prior to wrestle the Angel and say, “I will not go except thee bless me.” The Angel and Prior wrestle intensely, with Prior challenging the Angel to bless him. The Angel tries to rise above Prior and float back to Heaven, but Prior continues pulling her back to Earth. Suddenly, a bright ladder materializes, and the Angel tells Prior to climb to Heaven. Hesitantly, Prior climbs the ladder. He asks the Angel if he’ll be able to come back to Earth, but the Angel doesn’t answer.
Hannah and Prior have become surprisingly close in the last few scenes, partly because they’re both lonely desperate people—and they both believe in and can see the Angel. Prior climbs to Heaven, not knowing if he’ll be able to return to Earth or not. This reflects Prior’s despair about his own condition—he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be able to live.
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
After Prior has climbed the ladder, the Angel of America turns to Hannah. Although Hannah is visibly frightened, the Angel begins to kiss her passionately. Hannah begins to shake—she’s having a huge orgasm. As Hannah finishes her orgasm, the Angel rises back to Heaven, leaving Hannah in the hospital bed.
Hannah has a great awakening of her own—for the rest of the play, she’ll be a different kind of woman. The fact that Hannah not only experiences Prior’s fantasy but also experiences an orgasm further blurs the lines of sexuality and fantasy in the play, and reminds us how Kushner mixes fantasy with the realistic, creating a surreal, uncertain, sexualized mood all his own.
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon