Angels in America

by Tony Kushner

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Student Question

How does Prior respond to his role as a prophet imposed by the Angel?

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At first, Prior is overwhelmed with the responsibility.  He cannot comprehend how or what the Angel represents.  He certainly does not grasp his own role as a Prophet.  Yet, as the reality and surreality of AIDS becomes more evident in his own life along with how the cruelty of the disease seems to fade in the face of the cruelty of other human beings, Prior recognizes that his role as a Prophet might not be that far fetched.  When he says that "Maybe I am a Prophet," it is a moment where Prior understands that his role as Prophet is real and distinct.  However, as it becomes evident to Prior that his role as a Prophet involves the preaching of a gospel that embraces stasis and plasticity, Prior rejects this role and responds in a way that affirms the temporal condition of living in the world.  While Prior might be riddled with AIDS and is forced to see his world transform, it is a reminder of his own life and the brevity that might be associated it only makes it that much more significant.  In rejecting his role as a Prophet, Prior's response goes full circle from shock, to commitment, to rejection about his own role as a prophet.  In the process, Prior actually ends up becoming more of a "human prophet" for all beings to know that being homosexual, suffering from AIDS, and enduring emotional abandonment from others does not spell the end of all life.  Rather, it demands more from the individual to live it.

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