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After the Fall

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As Howard Taubman outlines the play: "At the outset Quentin emerges, moves forward and seats himself on the edge of the stage and begins to talk, like a man confiding in a friend. In the background are key figures in his life, and they move in and out of his narrative. The narration shades into scenes, little and big. They are revelations and illuminations. They remind Que As Howard Taubman outlines the play: "At the outset Quentin emerges, moves forward and seats himself on the edge of the stage and begins to talk, like a man confiding in a friend. In the background are key figures in his life, and they move in and out of his narrative. The narration shades into scenes, little and big. They are revelations and illuminations. They remind Quentin of an awkward young girl whom he made proud of herself. They bring the tortured image of his mother's death and another of his mother's fury with his father, who lost all in trying to save a floundering business. They crisscross through his relations with a number of women the first wife who wanted to be a separate person, the second who drove him into a separateness and a possible third who knew, as a German raised in a furnace of concentration camps, that 'survival can be hard to bear.' These intertwining images bring back the memories of inquisition when men were asked to name names of those who had joined with them in a communism that they mistook for a better future AFTER THE FALL is a pain-wracked drama; it is also Mr. Miller's maturest For to sit in Mr. Miller's theater is to be in an adult world concerned with a search that cuts to the bone."


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As Howard Taubman outlines the play: "At the outset Quentin emerges, moves forward and seats himself on the edge of the stage and begins to talk, like a man confiding in a friend. In the background are key figures in his life, and they move in and out of his narrative. The narration shades into scenes, little and big. They are revelations and illuminations. They remind Que As Howard Taubman outlines the play: "At the outset Quentin emerges, moves forward and seats himself on the edge of the stage and begins to talk, like a man confiding in a friend. In the background are key figures in his life, and they move in and out of his narrative. The narration shades into scenes, little and big. They are revelations and illuminations. They remind Quentin of an awkward young girl whom he made proud of herself. They bring the tortured image of his mother's death and another of his mother's fury with his father, who lost all in trying to save a floundering business. They crisscross through his relations with a number of women the first wife who wanted to be a separate person, the second who drove him into a separateness and a possible third who knew, as a German raised in a furnace of concentration camps, that 'survival can be hard to bear.' These intertwining images bring back the memories of inquisition when men were asked to name names of those who had joined with them in a communism that they mistook for a better future AFTER THE FALL is a pain-wracked drama; it is also Mr. Miller's maturest For to sit in Mr. Miller's theater is to be in an adult world concerned with a search that cuts to the bone."

30 review for After the Fall

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    I have decided to re-read or listen to productions of Arthur Miller's plays, many of which I have taught or seen produced many times. I'd never read this play or seen it, after heard it was interesting, but somehow self-serving, focused as it is in part on his relationship to Marilyn Monroe, with whom he had divorced two years previous to the first production of the play. I listened to an LA Theaterworks production over the last couple days, starring Anthony Paglia, who plays a lawyer stand-in f I have decided to re-read or listen to productions of Arthur Miller's plays, many of which I have taught or seen produced many times. I'd never read this play or seen it, after heard it was interesting, but somehow self-serving, focused as it is in part on his relationship to Marilyn Monroe, with whom he had divorced two years previous to the first production of the play. I listened to an LA Theaterworks production over the last couple days, starring Anthony Paglia, who plays a lawyer stand-in for Miller, Quentin, reflecting on his loves and losses. The play is a kind of memory play, where Quentin sits on an almost bare stage and returns to various memories of women in his life--his marriages, affairs, his mother--touching on the Holocaust, the McCarthy Trials, the Stock Market Crash, and other incidents. The controversial center of the play is the self-destruction of a show business idol, Maggie, to whom he is married. Miller uses Quentin's most recent love affair, with Holga, set in the present, to examine his past. The structure of the play is remarkable, but the play is less compelling than other Miller plays that are less about him, in my opinion. A central theme is denial, both American denial and personal denial; in order to make a significant commitment to Holga, Quentin must face the ways he has been in denial much of his life, and comes to terms with his failures, his various "falls." Many reviewers and audiences disliked his portrayal of Maggie/Marilyn for various reasons, which I understand, but disagree it felt ultimately self-serving. The "Fall" of Eden for Miller, as in all of our own falls, seems to create the conditions for the possibility of conscious choices, for redemption. I liked this play, find it intriguing, but I like The Crucible, All my Sons and Death of a Salesman, his masterpieces, much better.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Quite possibly the worst play I've ever read, and please take into consideration that I went to college with playwrights and was forced to read their crap. Imagine Arthur Miller weepily masturbating onstage for an hour and a half. This play was worse. Though similar. I also don't care for this perpetuated image of Marilyn Monroe being a failure. As a child she was the victim of sexual abuse, abandonment, and neglect, all while growing up in dozens of foster homes. Of course she abused drugs! It Quite possibly the worst play I've ever read, and please take into consideration that I went to college with playwrights and was forced to read their crap. Imagine Arthur Miller weepily masturbating onstage for an hour and a half. This play was worse. Though similar. I also don't care for this perpetuated image of Marilyn Monroe being a failure. As a child she was the victim of sexual abuse, abandonment, and neglect, all while growing up in dozens of foster homes. Of course she abused drugs! It made me feel like a voyeuristic pervert reading about her through his eyes (though cliché as his writing of it is). It's easy to pick on the dead when they can't defend themselves. And had it not been for all the juicy Monroe scenes, no way would this play have been produced. It lacks action and originality. Read some of the dialogue aloud--sounds like a soap opera. But with Nazis and a starlet.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Floored me. Here's me, on the floor. It haunts me. Floored me. Here's me, on the floor. It haunts me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    Nope. Wasn't really a fan of this one. Very disjointed, confusing, hard to follow along. It all takes place inside one man's mind, so things jump around a lot. Characters are despicable, moody, and their choices seem illogical or at least inexplicable in this context. Nope. Wasn't really a fan of this one. Very disjointed, confusing, hard to follow along. It all takes place inside one man's mind, so things jump around a lot. Characters are despicable, moody, and their choices seem illogical or at least inexplicable in this context.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Baxter

    completely unputdownable, heartbreaking and fragile and aching and engrossing from the first page. it makes it even more riveting knowing that its about his (of course) complicated relationship with marilyn monroe. im desperate to see this acted, and im even more desperate to play the role of maggie. someone somwhere please, let me play that role.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary Slowik

    December of Drama 2015, day thirteen Well, it finally happened. When I picked out two Arthur Miller plays to read this year, I was consciously trying to avoid the one he wrote about his marriage with Marilyn Monroe. I'd forgotten the title of it. I chose wisely, initially: The View from the Bridge, and The Price-- except the volume of his work that I checked out (1964-1982) didn't have The View from the Bridge. So what did I substitute? The first play in the collection: After the Fall. Which, of December of Drama 2015, day thirteen Well, it finally happened. When I picked out two Arthur Miller plays to read this year, I was consciously trying to avoid the one he wrote about his marriage with Marilyn Monroe. I'd forgotten the title of it. I chose wisely, initially: The View from the Bridge, and The Price-- except the volume of his work that I checked out (1964-1982) didn't have The View from the Bridge. So what did I substitute? The first play in the collection: After the Fall. Which, of course, is the one he wrote about his marriage with Marilyn Monroe. Now, if only it had just been about that, it might have been more enjoyable. The first thing I noticed was the length: 129 pages, which probably translates to nearly a three-hour performance. It's bloated. He could really have jettisoned all the stuff about concentration camps and the House Un-American Activities Committee, considering he addressed that whole witch hunt more intelligently and obliquely in The Crucible, and tightened this up. Instead it's kind of half-baked, meandering, and ultimately kind of a bore that had me imagining audience members in the sixties falling asleep watching it, only to nudge each other awake when it gets to the Marilyn part. Now of course it's not that overt-- her character is 'Maggie,' a singer instead of an actress, just as Arthur's stand-in is 'Quentin,' a lawyer instead of a playwright, but the veil is very thin. You're left with a revealing portrait of Miller as a tortured, conflicted and uptight (although honest) individual, and one of Marilyn as a deeply damaged and depressed person. This was interesting, but it just went on too long.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Annabel

    From a purely objective stance, I thought it was well done. There are some incredibly heart-wrenching moments throughout it, especially towards the end of Act 2. It also provides a bit of historical insight into the Red Scare and the emotional toll it took. However, I can't help but feel that Miller is exploiting Marilyn's legacy? Treating her mental illness as an obstacle for his personal growth so shortly after her death doesn't sit right with me (although it does provide a lot of interesting From a purely objective stance, I thought it was well done. There are some incredibly heart-wrenching moments throughout it, especially towards the end of Act 2. It also provides a bit of historical insight into the Red Scare and the emotional toll it took. However, I can't help but feel that Miller is exploiting Marilyn's legacy? Treating her mental illness as an obstacle for his personal growth so shortly after her death doesn't sit right with me (although it does provide a lot of interesting insight into their relationship).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    Pretentious piffle from a likewise playwrote who damns his far more talented movie star exwife.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Savala

    Some thought provoking quotes but mostly reminds me of ex's erratic, irrational, inconsistent ramblings. Some thought provoking quotes but mostly reminds me of ex's erratic, irrational, inconsistent ramblings.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John

    Re-read this because I'm getting rid of it, it's not one of my favorites and there are no good monologues in it and my edition is a really dingy paperback anyway. That being said, I liked it better this second time I read it. It's still kind of wanky, Miller trying to analyze his relationship with Marilyn Monroe and decide whether he was really in love with her, or just wanted to save her, or just wanted to sleep with her, or what. There's some good stuff in here about that relationship and abou Re-read this because I'm getting rid of it, it's not one of my favorites and there are no good monologues in it and my edition is a really dingy paperback anyway. That being said, I liked it better this second time I read it. It's still kind of wanky, Miller trying to analyze his relationship with Marilyn Monroe and decide whether he was really in love with her, or just wanted to save her, or just wanted to sleep with her, or what. There's some good stuff in here about that relationship and about communist witch hunts and stuff. But a lot of it seems like Miller acting like his problems are more important than they really are. I don't care that his psyche was tortured by his inability to listen to his wives. He seems whiny. It's funny how some authors have really good early stuff and then later they get too complicated and personal and weird, and other authors are self-absorbed and complicated and overblown at the start, and then mature into better, simpler stuff. I think Miller was more of the former kind of writer.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Miller's biased and fragile reminiscences of his emotional wives. Miller's biased and fragile reminiscences of his emotional wives.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    I am a fan of Arthur Miller's plays; The Crucible is my favorite... I've read it many times and have seen it performed a couple of times. After the Fall is more of a 'mixed bag' for me. This play is clearly semi-autobiographical with the main character, Quentin, being Miller himself and the character, Maggie, is Marilyn Monroe. Miller incorporates the 'Red Scare' into this play (which I actually found very interesting) and he seemed to be at a point personally in which he was trying to figure o I am a fan of Arthur Miller's plays; The Crucible is my favorite... I've read it many times and have seen it performed a couple of times. After the Fall is more of a 'mixed bag' for me. This play is clearly semi-autobiographical with the main character, Quentin, being Miller himself and the character, Maggie, is Marilyn Monroe. Miller incorporates the 'Red Scare' into this play (which I actually found very interesting) and he seemed to be at a point personally in which he was trying to figure out the reason he could simply not understand the women in his life and just why he couldn't seem to make any of his relationships work. This apparent soul searching, unfortunately, presented as self-important whining through much of the play. That being said, I loved the stage directions in this play and would love to see it performed. This is a play characterized by its scarcity... there is little scenery and the stage is mainly a wide open space. Quentin is speaking throughout the play to a 'listener' just off stage and the play takes place entirely in Quentin's mind... thoughts and memories... with various characters passing on and off the stage. Although reading this play wasn't entirely satisfying to me. I would love the experience of seeing how a performance would play on stage. I liked this play.... I just didn't love it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rick Rapp

    A cruel, thinly veiled portrait of Marilyn...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. I read this to get a picture of the inner workings of a cerebral narcissist. And it's all there. -Prodigy writer, put on a pedestal as a child, competition with sibling -demands constant praise and admiration (narcissistic supply) from wife -coldness, ignoring his wife at parties while flirting with other women. To Louise: "I don't sleep with other women, but I think I behave as though I do" -subsumes wife into his own being - Quentin to Louise: "When you've finally become a Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. I read this to get a picture of the inner workings of a cerebral narcissist. And it's all there. -Prodigy writer, put on a pedestal as a child, competition with sibling -demands constant praise and admiration (narcissistic supply) from wife -coldness, ignoring his wife at parties while flirting with other women. To Louise: "I don't sleep with other women, but I think I behave as though I do" -subsumes wife into his own being - Quentin to Louise: "When you've finally become a separate person, what the hell is there?" -values "social contract" over wife, always takes the side of others (ie Maggie and the cellist) -gaslighting - telling Louise "Louise, I worry about you all day. And all night." (false compassion) and, obviously, his intent to institutionalize Maggie -obsession with power: "Well that's power isn't it? To influence a girl to change her nose, her life?" "Not to see one's own evil - there's power! And rightness too! - so kill conscience. Kill it. Know all, admit nothing, shave closely, remember birthdays, open car doors, pursue Louise not with truth but with attention. Be uncertain on your own time, in bed be absolute." And, ultimately, inability to love. Quentin admits: "That's just it. That I could have brought two women so different to the same accusation - it closed a circle for me. And I wanted to face the worst thing I could imagine - that I could not love. And I wrote it down, like a letter from hell." The post-war despair, the killing of conscience, beyond good and evil, all bundled up into one man - highlighted superbly and disturbingly with the concentration camp imagery. Miller's guilt and self-loathing are on full display, but like both Louise and Maggie point out to him, awareness is not enough. He has to want to change his hurtful behavior. He has to want to love. I knew I would sympathize with Marilyn's character but I found myself identifying immensely with Mary Slattery, too. I thought their marriage fell apart mainly because he cheated with Marilyn (and others, probably) but nope! He narcissistically abused/discarded her, too. Some quotes from Louise that were so accurate they were scary: "What is it? The moment I begin to assert myself it seems to threaten you. I don't think you *want* me to be happy." "I don't intend to be ashamed of myself anymore. I used to think it was normal, or even that you don't see me because I'm not worth seeing. But I think now that you don't really see any woman." "I demanded nothing for much too long." "Look, Quentin, you want a woman to provide an atmosphere, in which there are never any issues, and you'll fly around in a constant bath of praise - " ------------ And some of Maggie's most insightful quotes: "If I want something you should ask yourself why, why does she want it, not why she shouldn't have it...That's why I don't smile, I feel I'm fighting all the time to make you *see*. You're like a little boy, you don't see the knives people hide." "When I walked into the party you didn't even put your arms around me. I felt like one of those wives or something!" Re: wanting Quentin to stand up for her: "When your mother tells me I'm getting fat, I know where I am. And when you don't do anything about it." "But what can I do?" "Slap her down, that's what you do!" And, on their WEDDING DAY, when he let Elsie flirt with him and promiscuously hug him. Him: "But what could I do?" M: "Just tell her to knock it off!" "you should look at me as if I *existed* or something" (Louise said something similar, prompting his "letter from hell" quote ^) Miller's supposed compassion is not backed by actions... "I hate seeing you writhing in pain"...but unwilling/unable to provide the love that would relieve the pain... "I just wish you could find some joy in your life." ---------------------------- Arthur Miller was a psychopath. Of course he was a genius. Perhaps he tried to love. He was simply incapable of the spectrum of human emotions and compassion. I do believe it took a certain amount of courage to write this play and admit his guilt and despair. His inner dialogue reveals a deeply unhappy man, proving that the blueprint of the narcissistic life does not in fact bring fulfillment. He writes of hope in regards to his final wife. Holga was Quentin's ideal "thick skinned" woman. From what I know about Miller's marriage to Ingeborg, while she seemed to be perfect to him and make him happy, he was still abusive. They had a son with Down Syndrome and Miller refused to see the child, demanding that he be institutionalized against his mother's wishes. How's her thick skin protecting her and her son from this overbearing, eugenicist, destructive, ableist, controlling, judgmental, anti-compassionate man? Apparently Daniel Day Lewis one day convinced the curmudgeonly, ancient Miller to visit his son, but by then it was too late... ---------------------- I was expecting, since this is all Miller's perspective, for Mary and Marilyn to be completely gaslighted out of existence in this play, painted as caricature "hysterical women." But no - their dialogue is completely rational and their arguments sound (with the exception of a few drunken rants from Marilyn). Miller just STILL doesn't see his errors fully, and still evidently bewildered as to how he could have ever done better. "This is exactly what I mean, Quentin. You are still defending it. Right now." (Louise) His introspection is fatalistic, full of guilt, shame, self-loathing - with regards to ALL the relationships in his life, including family. There is a lack of resolution or repentance. Just a sad, defeatist recognition..."that's just how I am" attitude... with the intent to keep plowing forward, probably hurting more people in the future. Searingly insightful, but morally broken. I agree with the critics that this play was exploitative of both Marilyn and Mary. Placing himself into the narrative of Marilyn's death revealed the deep guilt he felt - that he felt he in fact had killed her - but felt like a theft of very intimate details that no longer belonged to him. I have to say I'm grateful to Miller for writing this play so honestly. It's more of an explanation than I've ever received from a cerebral narcissist before. It's given me immense perspective and, consequently, validation and sanity. ------------------- "I mean, she's not your rib." I, too, lived in a false Eden with a false Adam. It was always after the fall.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Illiterate

    When public/private values fall, there is doubt/guilt.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    I thought this one was a little confusing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    jennifer

    Quentin is a lawyer at a big firm. He has friends, a wife, daughter and a Communist past he is still trying to come to terms with. He constantly flashbacks to his childhood to hear his parents bickering and flashes forward to listen to his current lover discuss her fear of Nazis. In between we see Quentin's first marriage end, the disintegration of his second marriage to a famous singer, and the fear he and his friends feel when the firm demands that someone names the former Communists among the Quentin is a lawyer at a big firm. He has friends, a wife, daughter and a Communist past he is still trying to come to terms with. He constantly flashbacks to his childhood to hear his parents bickering and flashes forward to listen to his current lover discuss her fear of Nazis. In between we see Quentin's first marriage end, the disintegration of his second marriage to a famous singer, and the fear he and his friends feel when the firm demands that someone names the former Communists among them. When I began reading this I was aware that Miller had caught a tremendous amount of heat for this play. I can see why. It is self-serving and egotistical in monumental proportions. He might as well have gone ahead and given the characters their real names: Quentin is Miller whining endlessly about truth, Maggie is Marilyn Monroe as the "quite stupid, silly kid." And the later lover, calm Holga, is Miller's then wife, Ingeborg Morath, the only female in the play that Miller doesn't portray as impossible to please. If Miller had simply written a play that had a little bit in common with his own life it wouldn't have mattered, but that he chose to write so transparently about his marriage, break-up and death of Marilyn so immediately after her death comes off as exploitation.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Willis

    The book starts off a little weak. The dialogue is strong, but the jumps between scenes, characters, eras is a little tedious to follow when one starts the play. However, as the story progress, Miller brings a little more cohesion to the overall story and focuses more on the two main character: Maggie and Quentin. This is an excellent work on the idea of how women bring man to his downfall. Quentin's life (and the play) is shaped by the women in it. His mother, his wives, a woman he meets abroad The book starts off a little weak. The dialogue is strong, but the jumps between scenes, characters, eras is a little tedious to follow when one starts the play. However, as the story progress, Miller brings a little more cohesion to the overall story and focuses more on the two main character: Maggie and Quentin. This is an excellent work on the idea of how women bring man to his downfall. Quentin's life (and the play) is shaped by the women in it. His mother, his wives, a woman he meets abroad, all influence his actions. He tries to save each one, but in the end is accused of not loving them enough. In the end he is forced to save himself and by doing so, abandons each one. I found this to be an engaging play.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    It was a difficult read in as much as it deals with some very difficult issues to which I could relate-relocating to a country the other side of the world and making promises to young children which you cannot possibly know whether you can fulfill or not, very difficult teenage behaviour (we personally have been blessed that our children haven't tried drugs but they did test us in other ways). It was very hard to put down and in fact I read it across only 4 evenings. It was a difficult read in as much as it deals with some very difficult issues to which I could relate-relocating to a country the other side of the world and making promises to young children which you cannot possibly know whether you can fulfill or not, very difficult teenage behaviour (we personally have been blessed that our children haven't tried drugs but they did test us in other ways). It was very hard to put down and in fact I read it across only 4 evenings.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Kleist

    I decided to read this book for two reasons: 1.) Because I love Arthur Miller's writing, but also 2.) because I had to for an author study. This play was great. I gave it a four only because it was hard to keep track of what was going on sometimes and I found myself re-reading things a lot. But it is seriously great. Not my favorite Arthur Miller play, but I love it a lot. I decided to read this book for two reasons: 1.) Because I love Arthur Miller's writing, but also 2.) because I had to for an author study. This play was great. I gave it a four only because it was hard to keep track of what was going on sometimes and I found myself re-reading things a lot. But it is seriously great. Not my favorite Arthur Miller play, but I love it a lot.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cary S

    Extremely dated. It's a product of its time, but that doesn't really stop it from being, at its core, misogynistic and confusing. Theatrically, the convention of staging the play in Quentin's mind was insightful and seemingly well-executed. (+1 star). But on the whole, this wasn't my cup of proverbial tea... Extremely dated. It's a product of its time, but that doesn't really stop it from being, at its core, misogynistic and confusing. Theatrically, the convention of staging the play in Quentin's mind was insightful and seemingly well-executed. (+1 star). But on the whole, this wasn't my cup of proverbial tea...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chuck O'Connor

    Epic, devastating - I love Arthur Miller.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Definitely a superb first approach to Arthur Miller's fantastic writing. Loved it. Definitely a superb first approach to Arthur Miller's fantastic writing. Loved it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Defenestraethe

    This was the play that convinced me I didn't like Miller very much. This was the play that convinced me I didn't like Miller very much.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I didn’t care for this autobiographical-ish snapshot of Miller and his wives. He’s despicable, his wives are one- dimensional. Blech! I requested this collection of plays from interlibrary loan.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kieran

    Nobody tells tragedy like Arthur Miller. An American great.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    Well, it wasn't quite Death of a Salesman. Well, it wasn't quite Death of a Salesman.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jake Van Hoorn

    Parts of this are promising but when it gets to the section that’s very clearly about Marilyn Monroe and could be translated no other way, it’s hard to disagree with the critics who said they felt he exploited his relationship with her to sell tickets. Definitely not one that stands the test of time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    کوئنتاین، می گوید: جهان پر از بی عدالتی بود، من به دنیا آمده بودم تا درستشان کنم! Most of Arthur miller’s plays such as “A View from the Bridge”, “The Crucible”, “All My Sons”, “Death of a Salesman” etc. are categorized as modern tragedies; the struggles of the everyday man; social American tragedies, focusing on the dark side of the American dream. “All my Sons” is a classic play, about guilt, responsibility, and the relationship between fathers and sons in the aftermath of a World War II corru کوئنتاین، می گوید: جهان پر از بی عدالتی بود، من به دنیا آمده بودم تا درستشان کنم! Most of Arthur miller’s plays such as “A View from the Bridge”, “The Crucible”, “All My Sons”, “Death of a Salesman” etc. are categorized as modern tragedies; the struggles of the everyday man; social American tragedies, focusing on the dark side of the American dream. “All my Sons” is a classic play, about guilt, responsibility, and the relationship between fathers and sons in the aftermath of a World War II corruption case, when two brothers come together to dispose of their parents' estate, their divergent attitudes and dispositions become increasingly accentuated: “Price”. Exploring the intersection between one man's self-delusion and the brutal trajectory of fate: (A View from the Bridge). Revealing the Salem witch trials of the late seventeenth century and the problem of guilt by association, but placed the outrage of McCarthyism in historical perspective: (The crucible). An anguished consideration of mortality and the gulf between men and women: (Elegy for a lady). Re-creating Dante's hell inside the gaping pit that is our history and populates it with sinners whose crimes are all the more fearful because they are so recognizable: (Incident at Vichy). A darkly comic satirical allegory that poses the question; What would happen if Christ were to appear in the world today: (Resurrection blues). A casual, warm-spirited and innocuous musical chalk talk whose future is likely to reside with amateur church and synagogue theater groups: (Up from Paradise). So simple in style and so inevitable in theme, where Miller has looked with compassion into the hearts of some ordinary Americans and quietly transferred their hope and anguish to the theatre: (Death of Salesman). A superb drama though Miller says; "…a love story between a man and his son, and... between both of them and America"! Though Miller’s works have always some social-political back ground in one or another way, but plays such as; “The archbishop’s ceiling” are referring directly to political issues (political situation in East Block in 1950’s and 60’s.) He has also plays which are less interesting; “A Memory of Two Mondays”, “Danger: Memory”; “I can’t remember anything”, “Clara”, “After the fall”, “Some kind of love story”, “The Last Yankee”, “Broken Glass”, “The Creation of the World and Other Business”, “The Ride Down Mount Morgan”, “American Clock”, etc.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Whatever Arthur Miller’s intentions in writing After the Fall, the themes of the play were overshadowed by controversy over his portrayal of his former wife, Marilyn Monroe. Monroe is here produced as a singer called Maggie, and her character is so unsympathetic that it raised concerns about how fair it is to put real people as characters in a fictional work. This is not a new concern. Woody Allen’s films provide many autobiographical details, and sometimes he even analyses his own right to inclu Whatever Arthur Miller’s intentions in writing After the Fall, the themes of the play were overshadowed by controversy over his portrayal of his former wife, Marilyn Monroe. Monroe is here produced as a singer called Maggie, and her character is so unsympathetic that it raised concerns about how fair it is to put real people as characters in a fictional work. This is not a new concern. Woody Allen’s films provide many autobiographical details, and sometimes he even analyses his own right to include them. D H Lawrence wounded his first wife when he put her in Sons and Lovers. She complained that he had unfairly misrepresented her so that he could make his mother look better. Here we see the problem of putting one’s real experiences in a work of fiction. People naturally assume that the writer is saying what actually happened, rather than presenting a partial and artistic account of real-life events. We always have to be careful when hearing one side of any argument, and this is especially so in fiction that takes extra liberties. Still nobody cares that D H Lawrence gave his wife a bad treatment in one of his novels, and yet people do criticise Arthur Miller for putting Monroe in such a bad light. Jacqueline Onassis attacked him for disloyalty, but what loyalty does a man owe to an ex-wife? It is a difficult dilemma for any writer. Perhaps they should not expose the private lives of their loved ones in their works, but then again what can they write about better than that which has happened to them, and their perceptions based on those experiences? There are two reasons why Miller is hauled over the coals more than other writers. Firstly because he wrote shortly after Monroe’s death, and this might be felt to have been disrespectful towards her memory. Secondly Monroe inspires extraordinary levels of love in her admirers. I can remember an extreme case – a man who wished her to be canonised on the grounds that she ‘suffered’. Most fans do not go that far, but it is fair to say that she is idealised beyond her worth. What most fans would like to imagine is that Monroe is the Maggie of Act One of After the Fall, a sweetly innocent and generous girl who is also incredibly sexual in a naïve way. This is the Monroe of the movies, and how they wish to see her. Miller’s error is that he uses Act Two to show Monroe as she really was – neurotic, pill-popping, demanding unfeasible levels of attention, love and preference, and bullying towards those below her. She was probably no worse than many leading actresses, other than being considerably more unprofessional. She had a reputation for turning up for rehearsals when it suited her, and being unable to remember even a simple line. Whether Miller is justified in taking down this plaster saint, or whether he should have honoured people’s false memories of her is a difficult question to answer. I suspect that in the long-term as Marilyn mania fades into the past, people will worry less about what Miller said about her, and look at the play instead. I have become preoccupied with one aspect of the play, and perhaps Miller is guilty of the same thing, the wide range of concerns in Act One being mostly replaced by the exchanges between the lawyer Quentin and his wife Maggie in Act Two. Still the play deals in other matters, and indeed throws up so many that it is hard to summarise them. It is non-linear, and shows us the memories of Quentin re-surfacing in a jumbled order. Quentin addresses an anonymous Listener, sharing his angst about the past. Who is the Listener? He is not a character and does not speak, so not a friend, therapist or priest. I suspect it is us. Every writer writes in isolation. Sure there are appreciative audiences and hostile critics, but they come later. Even the kindly friends who read first drafts come later. At the time of writing, an author puts out ideas and concepts that nobody but s/he is seeing at that point. Among his concerns are: Quentin’s relationship with his parents where he favoured his mother over his ineffectual father; worries about his brother being left behind while he pursued his career; anger with his mother for a lie that she told; a troubled first marriage where he upset his wife with his frankness, and his obliviousness to her; and troubled thoughts about his defence of a friend during the anti-Communist witch trials of the time. The prompting for these anxious reflections is Quentin’s relationship with a new woman, Holga. He is considering whether to take things further with her, but is haunted by his past failures, and the danger of making the same mistakes. Holga is a Holocaust survivor, and has learnt to embrace the child of her past, but Quentin is still struggling to do so. What lies at the heart of Quentin’s predicament is a sense of existential guilt. He blames himself for all his past experiences. The difficulty is that he is probably too hard on himself. Without pushing all the blame onto others, I can see that Quentin is wrong to take sole responsibility for what happened. Quentin’s marriages failed because of faults of his own, but his wives were not blameless either. Both of them took luckless remarks that he had made to heart, and refused to let them go, and they had their own range of faults. Quentin feels bad about his reluctance to legally defend a friend accused of Communist connections, thinking that the man may have committed suicide because he sensed that Quentin did not want to take the case. However the man had a choice whether to take his life or not, and Quentin did at least offer to do the right thing, whatever his private qualms. Still Quentin’s predicament is one that is experienced by any sensitive thinking person. What happens when we look back on all that went wrong in our lives? Was it really the fault of others, or are we to blame for all that happened? It is difficult for any open-minded person not to sometimes feel pangs of guilt concerning everything that passes. The title refers to the fall from the Garden of Eden, the move from a plastic garden of false perfection to living in the real imperfect world. How do we discover the truth, our sense of self, and how to learn to love ourselves and others after we have seen this imperfection? There seems to be some hope of resolution here. Quentin looks as if he may be able to put the ghosts of the past behind him, and move on with his relationship with Holga, but the ending is left open. After the Fall is not one of Miller’s better works, at least not in print. I have not seen a stage version of it, and perhaps might feel more enthusiastic about it if I had. On paper it seems too jumbled with speeches that read like vague non-sequiturs, and there is a constant attempt to draw up connections between events that really do not seem that connected. However it is an interesting play. It is Miller’s most personal work, and yet somehow it touches on something personal in me too.

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