Study Guide

Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika Philosophical Viewpoints: Progressivism

By Tony Kushner

Philosophical Viewpoints: Progressivism

<em>Angels in America</em> is definitely a play with a point of view. In case you weren't paying attention (for like the whole play), Prior sums it up for you in his final monologue, telling us that "The world only spins forward" (Epilogue.31). The play argues that humans, by our very nature, need to progress and change – it's just who we are. But what exactly is humankind progressing toward? In the play's view, the goals seem to be social justice, a more equitable distribution of wealth, and environmental sensitivity. What do you think? Is this your idea of progress?

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: Progressivism

  1. What reason does Prior give for returning the sacred book to the angels? How is his reasoning related to the theme of progressivism?
  2. In what way is Gorbachev's policy of perestroika related to the theme of progressivism?
  3. How does each character's life progress over the course of the play? How do these small human triumphs relate to the play's larger political themes?
  4. In what way is the motif of migration connected with progress throughout the play?
  5. Why do you think Kushner portrayed angels as conservative rather than progressive?

Chew on This

<em>Angels in America</em> argues that progress is not only necessary for mankind – it's inevitable.

In <em>Perestroika</em> we see the theme of progress on a personal, societal, and cosmic level.

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