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Prisoners of Love

“On Tidy Endings,” Harvey Fierstein’s 1987 drama about the beginning of the “Gay period” (1086) and the AIDS epidemic, focuses on two different lifestyles that are affected by the death of a loved one and the coping that goes along with it. Using a Cultural Studies approach, one can see that one’s culture, background, and “value system” (Lynn, 113) play an important role in understanding and accepting the text.To understand and accept the text, one must first place it in history. Over many centuries, many people have accepted themselves and others as being gay or lesbian – William Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson were believed to be. However, the AIDS epidemic, a disease that is considerably higher in the gay community than in the heterosexual community, has only been known about for a little less than twenty years. Therefore, it is much more difficult for one to understand the concept of the AIDS epidemic than it is for one to understand the concept of homosexuality. Furthermore, one cannot understand the text if s/he “question[s] whether homosexuality represents a choice or a destiny, a matter of preference or biology” (Lynn, 200). To understand and accept this text, one must be tolerant of the characters in it and of the decisions and choices that they have made. After dismantling the stereotypes and prejudices, “On Tidy Endings” can be accepted for what it is: a love triangle drama revolving around the lives of two gay men (one living, one dead) and the deceased’s ex-wife. On the outer edges of that love triangle falls a young boy who is trapped in a world that steals his innocence. Ludwig, 2As this play opens, the reader is introduced to a woman, Marion, and her son, Jimmy. These two characters are living in world that is filled with prejudice and intolerability. Although they do not take the blunt force of this world, it rests heavily ...

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