The AIDS Epidemic in On Tidy Endings by Harvey Fierstein Essay

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"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 …show more content…
As the drama progresses, the reader is informed that the prejudice and intolerability lay close to these characters because of the lives they have lived -- they were and are closely involved with "the Gay period" (1086) of life that was not fully accepted in 1987 when this play was written. Marion, who has just lost her ex-husband to an AIDS related illness, is living with guilt because she feels she was "fulfilling…every life fantasy" (1088) when, in reality, she was not. Her deceased ex-husband, Collin, was "living a lie" (1088) -- while living a heterosexual life with her, he was "fulfilling [his] every life fantasy" by living a secret homosexual life with his lover, Arthur. During this secret rendezvous, he contracted the AIDS virus. When Marion found out about this secret life of Collin, she herself fell into the world of prejudice and intolerability by not accepting his decision. She began to point fingers at the gay community, which led to dissension between Collin's lover and herself. By pointing fingers, Marion causes much stress between Arthur and Collin, Collin and herself, and Arthur and herself. This is evident throughout the play and through the many arguments that happen between Arthur and Marion. Their arguments, which are over petty things, are more about reality of life than about the petty things themselves.

Marion wants a great deal of Collin's possessions, when in reality what she

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