Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Angels Fall is a play about the importance of pursuing one’s vocation in a fallen world. Each of the male characters has a calling and is in some way confronted with difficulties, so each pursues his calling with varying degrees of success. Wilson develops the theme that, faced with difficulties in the world and in one’s own life, a person must pursue one’s calling with courage and perseverance.

The least complex of the male characters, Zappy Zappala, is called to be a tennis player, and his only difficulty is the poor luck he has been experiencing in the tournaments’ draws. His favorable draw for the upcoming tournament is a turn of events that foreshadows similar turns for the other characters.

Father Doherty, whose calling is the priesthood, is faced with the desire to control Don. His foster son grew up at the mission, and the priest has envisioned that he will travel from pueblo to pueblo (“Much as you do,” remarks Niles), ministering to the medical needs of the Indians. He comes to realize, in a climactic conversation with Niles, that while he is called to “preach and teach,” he cannot pass judgment on the career decisions of his young friend to please himself. As in the last temptation that Becket avoids in T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral (pr., pb. 1935), Doherty must avoid doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Don is called to be a doctor, specifically, he believes, as a...

(The entire section is 525 words.)