Eng 220 Angels in america Essay final - Markheim 1 Rowland Markheim Prof DiFruscio English 220 Final Suffocating Societal Ideals Angels in America

Eng 220 Angels in america Essay final - Markheim 1...

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Markheim Rowland Markheim Prof. DiFruscio English 220 Final 12/18/16 Suffocating Societal Ideals “Angels in America” is an award-winning play by Tony Kushner that depicts the emotions and experiences of homosexuals during the 1980’s. Kushner reveals what it is like to be a homosexual man in New York City during the AIDS crisis and the Reagan Administration through each character’s emotions and experiences. Some of the characters are “closet” homosexuals while others are openly gay, and others challenge expected gender identities in their own ways. Similar to characters in the play, Tony Kushner knew he was homosexual at a young age, but fought to “cure” his sexuality for many years through psychotherapy. It was only when that failed did he finally accept himself and come out as homosexual. Many characters throughout the play dealt with an internal conflict that, when read through a Gender Studies or Queer Theory lens, shows the reader the daily internal struggle of many homosexuals or marginalized people rooting from society’s ideals towards them. In culture and literature, the Gender Studies and Queer Theory lens is used to explore the issues of sexuality, power, and marginalized population. Queer theory focuses on any mismatches between sexes, gender, and sexuality. When reading through this lens, one approach is to identify how the author encodes the LGBTQ experience in the text. Another lens view to look through is how male and female characters act compared to the social norm’s of the time. The social norms being that: 1
Markheim the women’s place is in the kitchen or caring for the kids and men need to be powerful, strong, and the provider in the household. Queer Theory is rather complex because there are various ways it can be interpreted and applied. Essentially, Queer Theory is a tool to deconstruct existing ideals of taxonomy and social norms. Joe Pitt is a straight-edge guy that grew up in Salt Lake City that is somewhat lost in the huge city of New York. Being raised Mormon, Joe was taught to think that homosexuality was a sin. He had been fighting his entire life to change his sexual orientation and hid it from the people he is closest to. He is a successful law clerk that is mentored by the legendary conservative attorney Roy Cohn. Regardless of his career success, Joe finds himself unhappy and in frequent arguments with his wife, Harper. Harper struggles with a pill addiction and is known to have very interesting “dreams” or hallucinations. In one of these “dreams,” Prior suggests to Harper that Joe could possibly be homosexual. Initially Harper laughs at the idea, but then she starts realizing it could actually be true. Later in Act 1, Harper and Joe get into an argument shortly

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