Essay #5

Angels in America

Fatemi, Lamont, Lowry



Write a 4-5 page essay analyzing some specific element of the play in relation to what you see as a larger message of the play. You will use the text itself to provide support for your own unique analysis.


Some prompts:


1) Analyze one characterÕs role in the play, or analyze a relationship between two people, drawing a connection between that character or relationship and the overall meaning of Angels in America. The essay should have an overall claim (thesis) about your topic, developing an interpretation about the meaning of your character or relationship and exploring the way this meaning works in both parts of the play (Millennium and Perestroika) looking at specific examples. You might pay particular attention to the changes characters or relationships go through from beginning to end.


2) Analyze a theme (or motif or image or object) in the play, exploring how the theme functions throughout the play, and what it means in relationship to a larger meaning and message of the play. The essay should have an overall claim (thesis) about your topic, utilizing close reading from multiple parts of the play (Millennium and Perestroika both).


3) Come up with your own analytical topic. The only limitations on this are that you consult with me before the draft is due. For example, perhaps the homework about a historical or social reference or other brainstorming leads you down an analytical path that is compelling and engaging to you. The guidelines remain, like above, that you do analysis about a specific element in the play and develop an essay that is based on close readings of both Part I and Part II.


3A) (For example, you could): examine the role of hallucinations in the evolution of the Harper character. Or examine both Prior and HarperÕs dreams/hallucinations and develop an analysis of their role or significance to a theme of the play. What do they reveal about characters? About moral or cultural values the characters live within (or resist)? About the significance of the times the characters are working against? (Ask your own questions to help you explore, but stay focused on one major claim in your essay).



Thurs 11/10: Three copies to class

Thurs 11/17: One revised copy with all accompanying material

Analytical Strategies and Tips


In order to do this writing most effectively, youÕll need to think very specifically about the element you select.


į      For example, in your notes at least, you might need to identify the characterÕs major struggles, obsessions, relationships (tensions), turning points Š think about what they reveal and suggest about themselves about individuals.


į      If you choose a theme or image, you might want to note all the references and contexts where it appears or is suggested in both parts. Note: you wonÕt use all the references in your essay once you develop a meaningful sense of what you want to say about it. How is the theme or object treated or reacted to? who brings it up or is in the scene? what language is used in reference to it or to address the theme? and who utters this language (or is it stage direction)?


Then youÕll make a leap to consider how any of these specifics about your starting point speak to a purpose and meaning of the text.




Here are some analytical methods writers use, each of which offer a particular structure for your essay. You will by no means use all of them, and perhaps you wonÕt use any of them, but each provides a strategy for thinking about the form for your essay.


1)    Choose two passages (one early, one late in Millennium, or one from each or part I and II) and trace the changes that occur to a character from one to the next. (Or compare the way the theme or image is treated in the two different passages you choose).


2)    Start by identifying a theme and a character, and examine what the characterÕs lines and behavior/actions reveal about that theme Š what meanings does the character give that theme? You might also choose one passage early in the play to look closely at, and one later, to do the first chunk of writing and get started.


3)    Choose one specific aspect of a character, tracing that trait throughout the play in specific lines, or through various passages, and demonstrating a distinct theme that begins to develop when you examine that trait.


4)    To start any prompt, using these suggestions or others, you might imagine the writing as a sort of record of your thinking for yourself. You can even use the language ŅHereÕs what I noticeÉÓ if that is a helpful way to start writing.


5) Questions to help yield meaning or interpretation:

Why is this passage in this particular play in the play?

What does it introduce or develop in the play?

How does it contributed to what happens and to what changes (or doesnÕt change) in the play?

What happens to this theme/character as the play progresses and what happens to this theme/character at the end of the play?