Whether it is denial about sickness, sexuality, or reality itself; nearly every character in Angels in America experiences denial at some point during the play. In the first act of Millennium Approaches, we see Joe in denial about his sexuality, claiming that as long as he doesn’t act on his homosexuality it wont be a problem in the eyes of the Mormon church. Joe’s denial about his sexuality, though he addresses it in later scenes, is brought to the surface by both his wife Harper and Prior, a man he has never met. Although Harper is also Mormon, she doesn’t seem to have the same moral problems with her husband being gay but it does aid in showing the audience her denial about reality. Harper has constant thoughts about leaving for Antarctica where she believes she can have a new life. She eventually gets to experience this in what is a reality for her only to realize she had never left New York. We see Harper’s denial be challenged in ways she has not experienced before, just as we did Joe’s.
Louis has a different experience with denial, he believes his boyfriend is dying and rather than face what is happening he is in denial about his emotions. He attempts to cover these fears by leaving Prior and finding solace in others. Towards the end of the reading we have done so far, Louis realizes that he wants to be back with Prior, but it has taken him so long to get over the denial of his emotions around Prior’s sickness that there has been significant change in both circumstances. Prior’s denial is closer to that of Harpers, he questions his sanity because of his visits from the angel. He is not sure if what he sees and hears is real or if it is his sickness getting to his head and creating delusions. The development of each character in either the progression or overturning of their denial brings their stories closer, giving the audience a way of connecting each storyline and personality.