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Tony Kushner's play, Angels in America Essay

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Tony Kushner’s play, Angels in America, comments on a number of social issues of its time; ranging from political to societal. Additionally, it incorporates many concepts discussed in the Modern Condition courses. Thinkers such as Nietzsche, Borges, and DeBeauvoir are specifically represented in the play through the characters presented. Kushner uses his characters to convey the ideas of these thinkers in the context of the culture the play takes place in.
Nietzsche’s ideas are most clearly reflected in Roy Cohn: a power driven, “heterosexual” lawyer, “who fucks around with guys” (Kushner 52). Nietzsche’s writings emphasize mankind’s natural desire to gain power. This desire serves as a driving force behind all of man’s actions. Nietzsche also asserted that traditional morality was an institution established to curb society’s scramble for power. Due to this belief, Nietzsche claimed man must cast aside traditional morality, as it is serves as a roadblock, in order to be more successful in his quest for power. The superman was a concept he introduced, meaning a type of man who is able to access great power as a result of releasing himself from social restraints. This was the ultimate form of mankind, and only is possible when he releases moral obligation and restraint completely, and it can be argued that Roy Cohn is Kushner’s superman.
Roy Cohn’s embodiment of Nietzsche’s concepts is perfectly depicted by scene nine of act one, where Roy is told he has AIDS. Upon hearing the news, Roy immediately begins intimidating the doctor. He keeps asking him to accuse him of being a homosexual, and once the doctor finally states that Roy has sex with men, Roy retaliates with a speech on how he is hung up on terms. Roy states that, “Homose...


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...Angel. This transition can be show in the relaxed way she continues to spend time with Louis, Prior, and Belize.
The ideas of the Modern Condition are clearly represented by the thinkers studied through out the course, as their writings reveal the true themes and concepts that have shaped and continue to affect society. Kushner’s play seems to embody these concepts and show how they manifest in the modern times, and what issues are still plaguing society. His characters take on the role of conveying, and in some cases embodying, the ideas of these thinkers: Nietzsche, Borges, and DeBeauvior. In this way, Kushner’s play can be said to be a product of the Modern Condition due to its representation and application of the ideas that have shaped modern philosophy.



Works Cited

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America. New York, NY: Theatre Communications Group, 2003. Print.


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