Angels in America

Angels in America


Tony Kushner

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Angels in America makes teaching easy.

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…

read analysis of The “Book of Life”

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…

read analysis of The Angel’s Spectacles


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…

read analysis of Angels


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…

read analysis of AZT

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…

read analysis of The Bethesda Fountain

Get the entire Angels in America LitChart as a printable PDF.
Angels in America PDF


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…

read analysis of Perestroika


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…

read analysis of Funerals