Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Ned Weeks

Ned Weeks, a writer and activist who becomes obsessed with the AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) epidemic in its early stages and founds an organization to help gay men who have the disease. Angry, aggressive, and relentless in his tactics, Ned is criticized by most characters in the play, especially for his view that homosexuals should refrain from having sex until a cure is found for AIDS. In spite of his offensive behavior, Ned is the hero of the play. It is clear that he is upset by the deaths of young, gay men and that he is committed to warning those who have not yet been infected, no matter how much he must fight or what price he must pay.

Ben Weeks

Ben Weeks, Ned’s straight brother, a partner in a prestigious New York City law firm. Ned needs Ben’s help in setting up the organization for gay men, support Ben is reluctant to give because he does not want his name or the name of his firm associated with homosexual causes. When Ben refuses to be on the organization’s board of directors, Ned vows not to speak to him until Ben can accept him as his “healthy equal.” The brothers remain estranged until Felix’s death at the end of the play.

Emma Brookner

Emma Brookner, a physician who has devoted her practice to helping gay men infected with the virus eventually identified as AIDS. Besides being a pioneer in the treatment of AIDS, Emma spearheads early...

(The entire section is 532 words.)

The Normal Heart Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Gilbey, Liz. “Being What We Are.” Plays International 9, no. 2 (October, 1993): 14-15. Discusses The Destiny of Me (1992), Kramer’s sequel to The Normal Heart. In The Destiny of Me, Ned Weeks (also the main character in The Normal Heart) reflects on his life and family.

Maggenti, Maria. “AIDS Movies: A Swelling Chorus.” Interview 23, no. 4 (April, 1993): 112. A brief but pointed interview with Kramer in which he talks about the problems he had getting The Normal Heart produced. For an early review of The Normal Heart, see The New York Times Book Review, January 4, 1979.

Shnayerson, Michael. “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Vanity Fair 55, no. 10 (October, 1992): 228+. An in-depth portrait of Kramer and his work. Discusses Kramer’s relationship to his family and friends, and to the organizations that he founded (Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP).

Winokur, L. A. “An Interview with Larry Kramer.” The Progressive 58, no. 6 (June, 1994): 32-35. An interview with Kramer in which he criticizes The New York Times coverage of AIDS and speaks about Barbara Streisand’s film version of The Normal Heart.

Zonana, Victor. “Larry Kramer.” The Advocate 617 (December 1, 1992): 40-48. Extensive interview with Kramer about cultural, political, and medical establishments in the United States. Mentions both The Normal Heart and its sequel, The Destiny of Me. The second part of the interview, focusing more on personal issues in Kramer’s life, such as his own health since being diagnosed as HIV-positive, was published in the December 15, 1992, issue of The Advocate.