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Delusions Of Grand Realizations Essay

1769 words - 7 pages

What is reality? By definition, it is the world or the state of the world as it actually exists, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them. The subconscious, however, is a powerful thing, and with that, a person would be able to imagine a wide array of things, and that in itself, could be their reality. What in the brain allows a person to separate reality and fantasy? How much of a role does reality play until a person’s own imagination stimulates inner-change? Tony Kushner’s Angels in America explores this very question as a play full of great imagination and a peculiar loss of touch with reality. Harper and Prior must embrace their always-changing fantasies in the play to affect a progress in their selves, towards an improvement of the mind and physical situation. Some fantasies delicately oscillate between nightmare and informative visions, displaying the many ways the subconscious hinders or aids one on the path to self-improvement.
The opening scene of the play Millennium Approaches establishes the necessity for progress through physical and mental anguish. Rabbi Isidor Chemelwitz eulogizes Louis’s grandmother, Sarah Ironson’s, and commends those who have bettered their lives through their physical migration. The Rabbi praises the people who “crossed the oceans, who brought with us to America the villages of Russia and Lithuania . . . [who] carried the old world on her back across the ocean,” (1:16). Though seemingly discussing immigrants, he intently speaks of those who use progress as a means of coping with the despondency of past lives. Clearly, the ones who move forward with full realization of their pasts are the brave and noble ones; their long and perilous journeys towards the future, whether involving physical migration or mental migration, cannot fully occur without their acceptance of the chaos of the past. These people constantly travel towards the better, a concept innate and naturally instilled in human beings. Lost hope for the future is established when the Rabbi laments that “[s]uch Great Voyages in this world do not anymore exist,” (1:16). However, as the audience sees, such “Great Voyages” are very much so undertaken in Angels in America. A voyage of the mind is perhaps the most important “migration” of a human being’s life. Kushner echoes his own fear for America with the Rabbi’s speech as literary critic Charles McNulty identifies: “For Kushner, the past’s intersection with the present is inevitable, a fact of living; what disturbs him is the increasing failure of Americans to recognize this, the willful amnesia that threatens to blank out the nation’s memory as it moves into the next millennium,” (45). Without a firm grasp on history past (no matter how troubling and demoralizing), America is unable to truly progress through history with great stability or true enlightenment. Whether the migration is through fantasy or through physical movement, either way provides a way for a person to survive.
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