Identity affected by external factors

Angels in America is a play that discusses the complexity of identity construction affected by external factors. In it, we can see how some characters struggle finding or accepting their identity in a world where being themselves was wrong or against their familiar and religious values.

First, Joe Pitt, a middle-aged Mormon man, who in an attempt to accept himself and his sexual orientation, left his wife Harper to be with Louis. In one of Joe’s first attempts to be open about his sexual orientation, he tells his Mormon mother, Hanna Pitt, and she answers, You really ought to go home now to your wife. I need to go to bed. This phone call— We will just forget this phone call.” Despite the fact that he is a grown up man, Joe struggles accepting himself, in part, because of the family and religious values he has, which I consider are represented through the character of Hanna who shows herself really closed towards the LGBTQ+ community.

Second, the homosexual couple of Prior Walter and Louis Ironson is in crisis due to the cowardice of Louis to face the AIDS contracted by his partner, and decides to left him not knowing which was his role in this situation. The character of Louis is described during the funeral at the beginning of the play as a Jewish man and member of a religious family “how we fought, for the family, for the Jewish home” (p.10) In this case, we can also observe the familiar and religious external factor affecting the character’s process of accepting and showing himself as homosexual.

In this play, we can notice the complexity of the character in a constant oscillation between what they consider they should do and what they really want to do in an attempt to accept or discover themselves. We can say that this process is even more affected by the influence of external factors such as their religion, family values, jobs, politics and a whole world that looks at them judging for going against social norms.

One thought on “Identity affected by external factors”

  1. You touch on what I believe to be a core theme throughout this class. We have constantly seen the fight between identities and the struggle of intersectionality, and your analysis definitely does it justice. I am pulled back to Moraga and the push-and-pull of her race, gender, and sexuality, as well as Clare and the conflicts between his class, disability, gender, and sexuality. This play has a wonderful way of forcing the reader to see all the connections between the characters and their identities, and, in most cases, how those identities fight back against each other. One of the ones that is most prevalent to me is Roy’s sexuality versus his gender; he is a great example of how gender presentation (in his case, hyper/toxic masculinity) influence sexuality, both from the internal perspective and the external perspective.

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