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Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches

Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches


by Tony Kushner

Louis Ironson

Character Analysis


Prior: Criminal.

Louis: There oughta be a law.

Prior: There is a law. You'll see. (2.9.20-22)

Louis might not legally be a criminal, but he's does some seriously bad things. He really pulls a pretty jerk move when he abandons his boyfriend, Prior, while Prior is in the hospital suffering from the effects of AIDS. Prior has held off telling Louis about his illness for fear that Louis would leave him – and his fears turn out to be justified.

Of course, it's not like Louis is totally cold hearted – he obviously feels terribly guilty and wrestles with the decision a lot before he moves out of he and Prior's apartment. We see him consult a rabbi, cry in a bathroom, and, after he's left Prior, torment himself with guilt. When Louis leaves, he does it with full recognition of what a horrible thing he's doing. But still... he leaves.

Louis' character still manages to be quite sympathetic, however, to many audience members. He is definitely flawed and cowardly, but his traits are drawn with such care and detail that we at least understand why he does what he does. Louis might make you wonder, "What would I do in his situation?"

Though we don't see Louis punished in Part One, we can't help but wonder if he will be in Part Two. Is there some kind of higher justice, outside of the legal world? Prior certainly seems to think so. His "you'll see" comment in Act 2, Scene 2 is pretty ominous.

Louis and Joe

By the end of Millennium Approaches, Louis seems to be beginning a relationship with Joe, a man who is almost his complete opposite. The moment these two guys get together serves as the climax of both of their storylines for the first part of the play.

For more on Louis and Joe, check out "Character Role Identification: Foil."

Mr. Monologue

Louis is by far the most vocal character when it comes to politics. He loves to talk about his leftist views, at great length. None of the right-wing characters like Joe, Roy, or Henry get nearly as much time as Louis to ramble on about their political views.
This play is often called a political drama with a progressive message, and Louis is a big reason why this label fits. His huge monologue about the nature of democracy in America in his scene with Belize is probably the best example of this. In this lengthy speech, Louis waxes philosophic about his idea that the power in America is gradually shifting into the hands of the people and that, no matter how hard the right tries to stop it, the country is slowly progressing toward equality.

For a discussion of Louis as a possible protagonist, check out "Character Role Identification: Protagonist."