Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 338
He is the first person in the play to be diagnosed with AIDS. He is also dating Bruce Niles. He collapses when he runs towards Bruce to tell him about his condition and is taken back to the hospital for further tests.
He's Craig's friend and works at the New York City Health Department. He's also a member of Ned's gay community and one of the people trying to spread awareness about AIDS to the entire community.
He is the main character. He works as an activist and is very interested in the new epidemic. He is determined in understanding AIDS and helping the community. So much so that he starts an organization to spread awareness to the gay community. He's also romantically involved with an infected man, who dies at the end of the play.
She is a New York doctor with a special interest in AIDS. She develops a friendship with Ned, who also shares her passion. Together, they help affected and infected gay men with the disease to cope.
He is Ned's brother and a lawyer by profession. Despite numerous requests by his brother to support gay men dealing with AIDS, Ben refuses because he fears public humiliation for associating with the homosexual community. Although he's so distant, he actually loves his brother, and he helps Ned's lover draw up a will before he dies so that his assets can be in safe hands.
He is the president of Ned's support organization. Ned often argues with him because he takes a moderate approach towards the organization's affairs. He is also someone who loves to have casual relationships and might be infected with the disease.
He is Ned's lover and a reporter by profession. He eventually dies of AIDS in the last scene.
He is a volunteer for Ned's organization and a very energetic man. He loves to run errands for the firm and has a secret crush on Ned.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 532
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, 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, 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 efforts to conduct research on the disease, although the medical establishment does little to support her efforts. Strong, angry, and relentless, Emma tries to reach the gay community, through Ned and others, to warn gay men about the disease and to urge them to stop having sex. She treats Felix, Ned’s AIDS-infected lover, and marries Ned and Felix in her hospital.
Bruce Niles, Ned’s antithesis. Although both Ned and Bruce are on the board of directors of the gay men’s organization, they have very different ideas about how the organization should respond to the AIDS epidemic. Bruce, as opposed to Ned, is conservative in his approach and is apolitical. Although the two fight about almost everything pertaining to the organization and although Bruce eventually kicks Ned out of the organization, they are also friends (at times), and Ned supports Bruce when his lovers die of AIDS. Ironically, Ned is romantically attracted to Bruce at the beginning of the play. Bruce is more self-conscious about his homosexuality than any other character in the play.
Felix Turner, a fashion reporter for The New York Times who becomes Ned’s lover. At the end of the play, he dies from AIDS, after he and Ned are married.
Tommy Boatwright, one of the younger volunteers with the organization for gay men. Hardworking, enthusiastic, and innovative, Tommy also is diplomatic, often trying to solve conflicts between Ned and the other members of the organization. If anyone provides comic relief in the play, it is Tommy, whose mannerisms and expressions are overtly gay. He is romantically interested in Ned until Felix and Ned begin dating.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 240
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.