Angels in America

Identitiy Crisis: The Inward Voyage

At the first scene of Tony Kushner’s drama Angels in America (1993), Rabbi Isidor Chemelwitz's eulogy for Sarah Ironson exposes the play's crucial themes and motifs. The Rabbi, a member of the “Bronx Home for Aged Hebrews” (Millennium, 9), commemorates Sarah’s life and in particular her great voyage to America. However, he continues to express pessimism about the present world by saying, “You can never make that crossing that she made, for such great voyages in this world do not any more exist” (Millennium, 10). However, due to the Rabbi’s age and his clear bias against today’s life in “the melting pot where nothing melted” (Millennium, 10), his speech is juxaposed with one of the play’s re-definition of identity. The Rabbi may be correct in stating that there are no longer physical voyages of mass migration in the world; however, when concerning metaphysical voyages, the play’s primary characters present the antithesis to Rabbi Chemelwitz’s theory. Today’s life journeys no longer pertain to physical expansion, but rather mental expansion, which lead us into discovering our personal identities while at the same time resisting social expectations and standards. Harper, Louis, and Joe best exemplify this inward expansion...

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