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Fear in Tony Kushner’s Angels In America

Fear in Tony Kushner’s Angels In America

Both parts of Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America paint a painfully truthful picture of what gay men go through. In most cases, they suffer either inner anguish or public torment. Sometimes they must endure both. Being homosexual in America is a double-edged sword. If you publicly announce that you are gay, you suffer ridicule and are mocked by the ignorant of society; but if you keep your homosexuality a secret, you are condemned to personal turmoil. Kushner’s work attempts to make America take a close look at itself and hopefully change its ways. The fear of public scrutiny forces many gay men into a life of denial and secrecy.

Kushner describes a society, not unlike our own society today, that looks down upon gay men and other minorities. By setting the play in the mid 80’s, a time when gay-bashing was at its zenith, he is able to capture the prejudice towards homosexuals and all that surrounds it. The early 80’s was also the time when AIDS was a new disease being made aware to the mass public for the first time. By setting the story in New York City, a melting pot of different cultures and people, Kushner proves that not just one group of people come in contact with homosexuals. All of these geographical and atmosphirical forces aid in setting the mood of the play. These surroundings drive the characters to act the way they do and make the choices they make.

Angels in America centers around the gay community which is one of the most scrutinized minorities in the world today. Kushner is able to convey his view more efficiently by having a broad range of power. His characters are of more than one social standing and are at different places in …

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…men are a minority, and like any minority there is prejudice against them. Kushner focuses on that prejudice and shows how foolish it is. He proves that gay men are not drastically different than any other man. The only difference is their sexuality, and that part of any person is no one else’s business. Homosexuals and heterosexuals both feel love when in relationships, and that is where the emphasis should be placed. A person’s sexual behavior should be left in the bedroom and not debated in a public forum. Neither heterosexuals nor homosexuals are better than the other. Until society as a whole makes a conscious effort to accept gay men and all minorities, prejudice will still exist and be a part of us all. No one has the right to judge another person.


Kushner, Tony. Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches. New York: TCG, 1992.

The Thin Gender Line in Macbeth

The Thin Gender Line in Macbeth

Some people would do anything to get what they want. The characters of Macbeth are no exception. Shakespeare creates people who either strive for, or abuse authority. The men and women in Macbeth have varying degrees of guilt, power, and integrity.

In order to compare the genders in Macbeth, one must understand how women were treated in Shakespeare’s time. The great Queen Elizabeth I died three years prior to the writing of Macbeth, and yet her reign made little difference on the matter of women’s rights. “At the time of Queen Elizabeth’s death, almost everyone of both sexes agreed that the female intelligence was less than that of the male” (Fraser 4). Women were considered to be the “weaker vessel” (Fraser 4). A woman was forced to marry a man of her father’s choosing and then was under the complete control of her husband (Fraser 5). When Macbeth was written, women were supposed to be virtuous, submissive, maternal, and nonviolent. However, men also saw women as temptresses and felt that they were more susceptible to the devil’s influence (Fraser 5). Most women of that time had little control over their own lives.

Lady Macbeth is the antithesis of what a woman was supposed to be. She is ruthless, bloodthirsty, and non-maternal. She would have “dashed the brains out” of her own child to suit her ambitions (1.7.64). Lady Macbeth is not content with a bit part in the drama; she wants center stage. She seems almost ashamed of her frail sex. “Come, you spirits, that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty!” (1.5.44-47). Lady Macbeth has much in common with the weird sisters. Th…

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… their gender and those who are the total opposite. He proves that both sexes can be ruthless, and do anything to achieve their objective. The line between genders is thin, and is crossed in Macbeth quite often.

Works Cited

Fraser, Antonia. The Weaker Vessel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1984.

Mahood, M.M. “Shakespeare’s Wordplay”. Shakespeare: Macbeth. Ed. John Wain.

Nashville: Aurora Publishers Inc. 1970.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Folger Library General Reader’s Shakespeare. New

York: Washington Sq. Press. 1959.

Waith, Eugene. “Manhood and Valor in Macbeth”. Twentieth Century Interpretations of

Macbeth. Ed. Terence Hawkes. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc. 1977.

Wills, Garry. Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare’s Macbeth. New York: Oxford University

Press, 1995.

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