Angels in America

Angels in America

by

Tony Kushner

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Angels in America can help.

The “Book of Life”

When the Angel of America visits Prior Martin, she gives him a heavy metal book containing a prophecy—the “Book of Life.” As the play goes on, Prior learns that the prophecy he’s been instructed…

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The Angel’s Spectacles

The Angel of America also provides Prior Martin with a pair of magical spectacles, which supposedly allow Prior to see the world in its true form. The symbolism of the spectacles explicitly recalls the iconography…

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Angels

Angels are among the most explicit and evocative symbols in Kushner’s play. To begin with, it’s important to note that angels are hermaphrodites, neither male nor female. This is important because Kushner’s play centers around…

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AZT

In Kushner’s play (and in real life, at least in the late 80s and early 90s), AZT is a “miracle drug,” rumored to be able to save AIDS patients from death by staving off the…

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The Bethesda Fountain

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…

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Perestroika

In the late 80s and early 90s, the President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, instituted a series of liberal reforms in his country, which were collectively referred to as “perestroika.” These reforms allowed for…

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Funerals

It’s only appropriate that Angels in America, a play about the devastation of the AIDS crisis, include a few scenes centered around funerals. It’s clear enough that funerals symbolize the effects of the AIDS…

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