In the early stages of a new love, paralyzing memories of past relationships haunt Quentin, a liberal New York attorney who questions his own ability to truly connect with the women in his life. Arthur Miller’s most personal and autobiographical play, After the Fall, unflinchingly tackles the emotional brutality that can unfold within a marriage, against a national backdrop of McCarthyism and the commodification of celebrity. In doing so, Miller unravels the political complications in personal relationships while exposing the personal consequences of big-issue politics. The middle-aged Quentin is courting Holga, a German woman still struggling with her experiences during World War II. As he seeks to define his own feelings and decide the future of their relationship, his fragmented memories reassert themselves, sometimes without his willing participation. His mother, his first wife Louise, and his second wife Maggie feature most prominently in the large ensemble cast, which also portrays his father and brother, clients, partners, friends, and other fleeting romances. The play constitutes a roman á clef: it is no secret that Quentin, though written as a lawyer, is the voice of the playwright, and Maggie is based, not so loosely, on Miller’s own second wife Marilyn Monroe. The dissolution of that marriage, between Quentin and Maggie, and the journey through addiction, alcoholism, and rising stardom which ultimately leads to Maggie’s suicide attempts, form the central action of the play. After the fall from Eden, no one is innocent, and finally we are left with only questions as Quentin is followed into darkness by the whispering mob of his personified past.
After the Fall guide sections