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Values And Standards In Kushner's Angels In America

1361 words - 5 pages

What does Kushner propose about religious/personal standards, and are those standards valuable or do they cause difficulties? Many people today have a set of religious or personal standards that has aided them in obtaining their goals. However, there are many others who do their best to live up to those standards of perfection but end up living miserable lives. This essay will discuss the possible standards of Joe and Roy implied in the play, “Angels in America” by Tony Kushner, while discussing how they can be both valuable and questionable.

Kushner implies that religious ideals act as guidelines for those who follow them. He brings this point across with the character called Joe. A Mormon who has used those religious standards to fight off the “wrong or ugly” and has modified his behavior to what is “decent” or “Correct” (Angels in America pg. 40). Joe also talks about the picture where “Jacob wrestles with the angel,” Kushner mentions this to propose that Joe is Jacob and he is fighting with the flesh or something that isn't part of his religious ideals. Joe goes on to say that “losing means your soul thrown down in the dust, your heart torn out from God's,” which means that losing or in other words giving into temptation goes against those ideals (Angels in America pg. 49). Kushner conveys that religious ideals or ultimate goals that assist as a sort of road map to guide people the right way so they may be able to live happier lives.

Kushner also proposes another side to those same religious standards that he discusses throughout the play. As a Mormon, Joe has followed those ideals very closely and even though he is a respectable man he isn't happy; “I graduated fourth in my class... I'm tired of being a clerk, I want to go where something good is happening” (Angels in America pg. 23). Joe has work hard and done everything right to get to where he is now but isn't happy because he feels like he is missing something.
Joe has a battle with himself over the wrong that's inside; “no matter how wrong or ugly that thing is, so long as I fought, with everything I have to kill it... As long as my behavior is what I know it has to be” (Angels in America pg. 40). Kushner's choice of words for Joe seem to suggest that he is fighting the “wrong” inside him but only because thats what these religious ideals dictate he should do. Joe seems to be hiding the fact that he is a homosexual, we see this when his wife Harper asks him and he responds; “What if I... No. I'm not. I don't see what difference it makes” (Angels in America pg. 38). This is an example of how religious ideals bring difficulties not only in how a person lives but also their sexuality.

Kushner also prompts the consideration of having personal highly desirable goals. He introduces such standards with another character called Roy Cohn who...

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