Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Jones, Chris, 1963-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

School of Theatre Arts


Kübler-Ross; Elisabeth. On death and dying; AIDS (Disease) in literature; Death in literature; Drama--20th century--History and criticism; Death--Psychological aspects


This thesis explores the possibility of a parallel between Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s theories on the stages of death and dying and the changes that have happened to AIDS plays over the last twelve years. A comparative study is used to analyze whether or not A TPS plays have followed Kubler-Ross’ stages of death and dying. Nine plays were examined to see whether this theory is true. All the plays used have obvious AIDS-related themes and characters coping with AIDS in one way or another. The objective of the thesis is to: (1) determine if there is a parallel between the A TPS works and Kubler-Ross’ stages, (2) determine how the works fit into the stages, and (3) what expectations exist for the future of AIDS works. By looking at works of the mid-1980s, late ‘80s and early 1990s, and mid-1990s, the thesis will use a solid timeline to prove the theory that AIDS works have indeed followed Kubler-Ross’ stages of death and dying. The stages of Kubler-Ross’s death and dying that will be examined are “Anger,” “Bargaining,” and “Acceptance.” The plays used to illustrate these stages are as follows: For the “Angry” stage, William M. Hoffman’s As Is. Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart. and Lanford Wilson’s Poster of the Cosmos. The “Bargaining” stage, Paula Vogel’s The Baltimore Waltz. Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and Victor Bumbalo’s What Are Tuesdays Like? The final stage is “Acceptance” and Brad Fraser’s Poor Superman. Terrence McNally’s Love! Valour! Compassion!, and Nicky Silver’s Pterodactyls will be used to focus on this specific stage. The thesis begins by exploring the historical background of AIDS and how it affected the theatre. By examining the social and political reaction to AIDS, the thesis / illustrates possible reasons why specific playwrights chose to create the works they did. Exploring what motivated artists in the early stages of AIDS is essential to the understanding of the thesis’s main body. Hopefully by the end of the thesis, the reader will have been convinced that theatrical works have indeed followed Kubler-Ross’ stages of death and dying. The evidence and model given will support the theory of the thesis.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [93]-94)


94 pages




Northern Illinois University

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