Angels in America

by Tony Kushner

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Student Question

Which character in "Angels in America" best demonstrates a shift from imperialism to multivocality and multiracial theory?

Expert Answers

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Strangely enough, I think Harper is the character that best represents the transcendence from traditional notions of imperialism to a new understanding of multivocality and a theory that embraces multiracial identity.  I think that she has severe challenges in her workings with people in the play, she does feature an ability to transcend her voice and immerse herself into others.  While one can argue that her ability to integrate her own sense of understanding into others because she seeks to escape her own private "hell," this might be a limited argument.  As the play progresses, she possess more understanding of herself, of others, and she does not sacrifice her voice in the acknowledgement of others.  She is one of the first instances of compassion towards Prior's realization that he is dying.  As the play advances, she asserts her own sense of self to Joe.  Harper confronts Joe in their apartment and demands his credit card so she can go off and start a life of her own. As consolation, she offers Joe her valium and suggests he goes exploring.  Even in her confrontation, she embraces a sense of mutivocality, in trying to give voice to Joe, who is in sore need of finding it.  Additionally, her desire to break out and establish her own identity, she breaks away from imperialistic and traditionalist notions of domesticity.  In the final analysis, Kushner seems to give a great deal of transcendence to Harper.

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