Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches
by Tony Kushner
Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches Theme of Spirituality
As you might guess from the title, Angels in America deals quite a bit with the theme of spirituality. Joe wrestles with the precepts of his Mormon faith, and the play is filled with references to Judaism. It begins with a traditional Jewish funeral, for example. Much of the Jewish motif that runs through the play isn't exactly mainstream Judaism. Much of it seems drawn from Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism. Throughout, there are many references to figures found in scripture – Cain, Jacob, Lazarus, Judas, and, God himself, to name a few. When the angel comes crashing through Prior's ceiling at the end of the first part of the play, the theme of spirituality is brought to a thundering climax.
Questions About Spirituality
- What are the different religious beliefs mentioned in the play? What is their significance?
- Are all the spiritual belief systems in the play represented fairly? Explain.
- How do the characters interact with the spiritual world? Are they afraid or accepting of it?
- How do the ghosts in the play connect to the play's theme of spirituality?
Chew on This
The spiritual world created in the play provides Kushner a platform to discuss not only the mysteries of America, but also the mysteries of the universe.
Angels in America presents a world in which everyone abandons his or her faith, a world more full of doubt and sadness than divine grace.