After the Fall Summary
by Arthur Miller

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After the Fall Summary

After the Fall is a two act play written by Arthur Miller in 1964. This play is not one of Miller's more popular plays. Miller is also the author of Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. Some believe that this play is a personal critique written by Miller about his divorce from Marilyn Monroe. Some also say that the main character and Miller have a lot of similarities. Because of these reasons, this play is considered semi-autobiographical.

This play is interesting and different from typical plays in the fact that most of the scenes take place in the main character's head. It is as if the play is moving from one memory to the next. Overall, this play has two major plot lines, one being about a lawyer named Quentin his love interests while the other is about Quentin's decision to defend his friend who is accused of being a Communist.

The relationships that are described in this play include Quentin's marriages and his new relationship with a woman named Holga. Holga is a German woman who is haunted from memories of World War II. Quentin's first marriage is also discussed. This marriage was to a woman named Louise. Louise becomes angered with Quentin because she does not believe he values her as a person. Quentin's second wife was a lady named Maggie. Maggie is the character most similar to Marilyn Monroe because her relationship with Quentin is riddled with addiction and suicide attempts. Quentin's relationship with his own mother and his family is also examined through this play. It is through the memories of his past relationships that Quentin decides whether or not to pursue a relationship with Holga and what the future holds for this relationship.

The second storyline of this play has to do with Quentin's occupation as a lawyer. Quentin defends his friend Lou, who is accused of being a Communist. This becomes an issue because Quentin's boss does not like the fact that Quentin is defending a Communist and how this reflects on his firm.

Throughout the play and because of his experiences, such as visiting a concentration camp, Quentin learns about the fall from Eden and his own shortcomings in life.

Summary

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

After the Fall demonstrates one man’s struggle to survive in a fallen world. The fall from Eden is a recurrent theme in American literature—America, after all, was established as a kind of New World Garden, a bountiful paradise that would yield endless riches. It would bring forth an ideal community in which all individuals could live together in harmony and prosperity. The possibility of a fallen Eden, however, always lurked in the Puritan commitment to the individual’s natural propensity for evil. Some of the greatest American authors—Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry James, and William Faulkner—have treated the theme of the fall. In After the Fall, Miller explores this theme in the light of the modern world. Quentin, the main character, who feels that there is no God to judge his actions, is an alienated man. He tries to plead his case to a sympathetic listener who is neither seen nor heard.

Quentin, a once-successful lawyer, examines his own conscience and becomes aware of his own fall from innocence. Through Quentin, Miller explores the historical context which has led humanity into a state of universal guilt. With his new girlfriend, Holga, Quentin visits a Nazi concentration camp. At the site, he is amazed to realize that human beings created such atrocities to slaughter nameless victims. According to Miller’s ethics, a hero dies affirming his identity by retaining the dignity of his name. Anonymous slaughter is anathema. The atrocities of the camps have made everyone, especially the survivors, guilty. Innocence is no longer possible, for the Holocaust of the Jews has violated all the principles of Judeo-Christian morality. The image of the concentration camp haunts Quentin throughout the play, a constant reminder that the world has fallen.

Quentin also experiences the guilt inherent in being part of a family. His...

(The entire section is 1,261 words.)