Angels in America by Tony Kushner

Start Your Free Trial

What was the meaning of "I,I,I,I..." used by the Angel(s) in the HBO series Angels in America?

Expert Answers info

carvwriter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write19 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and Arts

The English word "angel" is derived from the Greek word "aggelos." It was used by the Greek-speaking translators of the Septuagint scriptures to represent the Hebrew word "malakh." Both "aggelos" and "malakh" simply mean "messenger." A human delivering a message to another human is still a malakh in Hebrew. In this context, however, angels are supernatural beings who deliver messages from God to human worshipers. They speak for the Deity, suggesting that God himself must remain distant from humans to avoid overwhelming us with his glory and power. In ancient thought, the king never goes to his subjects. Rather, he employs lesser beings to carry his word throughout his realm.

Similarly, the angel who appears at the end of Millennium Approaches is speaking for the Hebrew-Christian God. That God once revealed himself to Moses using the nominative phrase "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh," meaning "I Am Who I Am." This phrase, spoken from the famous burning bush in Exodus 3:14, can also be translated as "I Cause to Be What I Want to Exist." When relating the incident, Moses retells it from his own perspective, of course, so he changes the phrase to "Yahweh Asher Yahweh," "He Is Who He Is." From that point on, YHWH (the exact vowels are unknown) becomes the Tetragrammaton (four-letter word), the personal name of God in Hebrew spirituality. Thanks to transliteration into the Latin alphabet, the name YHWH/Yahweh comes to English as Jehovah. By repeating the word "I," the angel appears to be invoking the "Ehyeh" in "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh." She's reminding us she speaks for a higher power even than herself.

It's also a great way for Kushner to highlight the angel's distinctiveness and magnificence from the very first word of many of her sentences. Finally, note that the angel says "I" four times each. In his description of the character, Kushner explains her role as "four divine emanations, Fluor, Phosphor, Lumen and Candle; manifest in One: the Continental Principality of...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 669 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

James Kelley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write624 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial