The Visit

Ill begins the play as Güllen’s most popular citizen and its mayor-to-be, but he ultimately becomes the object of the town’s derision—an obstacle to the billion dollar endowment promised to them by Claire on the condition that Ill be killed. As a young man, Ill romanced Claire, only to abandon her when she became pregnant. He falsely denied having fathered her love child, and bribed Koby and Loby (then known as Jakob Duckling and Walter Perch) to incriminate her. He went on to marry Matilda Blumhard for her money. When Claire returns to Güllen decades later and puts a price on his head, the popular Ill trusts that the town will support him. But after seeing his fellow Gülleners buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have, he begins to worry for his life, knowing that the greater the townspeople’s debt, the greater their need to kill him and claim Claire’s billion. Betrayed by his neighbors, defamed by authorities, and unable to successfully escape Güllen, Ill bravely accepts the consequences for his mistreatment of Claire, and he approaches his inevitable death with dignity.

Alfred Ill Quotes in The Visit

The The Visit quotes below are all either spoken by Alfred Ill or refer to Alfred Ill. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice, Morality, and Money Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of The Visit published in 2010.
Act 1 Quotes

Life has gone on, but I have forgotten nothing, Ill. Neither the woods of Konradsweil nor Petersen’s barn, neither Widow Boll’s bedroom nor your treachery. Now we have grown old, the two of us, you down at the heels and me cut to pieces by surgeons’ knives, and now I want us both to settle accounts: you chose your life and forced me into mine. You wanted time to be suspended, just a moment ago, in the woods of our youth, so full of impermanence. Now I have suspended it, and now I want justice, justice for a billion.

Related Characters: Claire Zachanassian (speaker), Alfred Ill
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 2 Quotes

ILL: You’ve got new shoes. New yellow shoes.

SECOND MAN: So?

ILL: You, too, Hofbauer. You, too, are wearing new shoes. (He looks at the women, walks over to them slowly, horrified.) You too. New yellow shoes. New yellow shoes.

Related Characters: Alfred Ill (speaker), First–Fourth Men
Related Symbols: Yellow Shoes
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
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ILL: The customers I’ve had this morning. Usually there’s no one for the longest time, and now, for the past few days, they’re coming in droves.

FIRST MAN: It’s because we stand by you. We stick by our Ill. Firm as a rock.

Related Characters: Alfred Ill (speaker), First–Fourth Men (speaker)
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

MAYOR: You forget that you’re in Güllen. A town with a humanist tradition. Goethe slept here. Brahms composed a quartet. These values impose an obligation.

A man enters, left, with a typewriter.

MAN: The new typewriter, Your Honor. A Remington.

Related Characters: Mayor (speaker), Alfred Ill
Page Number: 52-53
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3 Quotes

The temptation is too great and our poverty is too wretched. But I know something else. I too will take part in it. I can feel myself slowly turning into a murderer. My faith in humanity is powerless. And because I know this, I have turned into a drunk. I am scared, Ill, just as you have been scared. I still know that some day an old lady will visit us too, and that then what is happening to you now will happen to us, but soon, maybe in a few hours, I will no longer know it.

Related Characters: Teacher (speaker), Claire Zachanassian, Alfred Ill
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
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Your Honor! I’ve been through hell. I saw you all going into debt, and with every sign of prosperity I felt death creeping closer. If you had spared me that anguish, that horrible fear, it would have all been different, we could speak on different terms, I would take the rifle. For all of your sake. But then I shut myself in, conquered my fear. Alone. It was hard; now it’s done. There is no turning back. Now you must be my judges. I will submit to your decision, whatever it turns out to be. For me it will be justice; I don’t know what it will be for you. May God help you live with your judgment. You can kill me, I won’t complain, I won’t protest, I won’t defend myself, but your action is yours, and I can’t relieve you of it.

Related Characters: Alfred Ill (speaker), Mayor
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

ILL: The town’s holding a meeting this evening. They’ll sentence me to death and one of them will kill me. I don’t know who he will be or where it will happen, I only know that I’m ending a meaningless life.

CLAIRE ZACHANASSIAN: I loved you. You betrayed me. But the dream of life, of love, of trust—this dream that was a reality once—I haven’t forgotten that. I want to rebuild it with my billions, I will change the past, by destroying you.

Related Characters: Claire Zachanassian (speaker), Alfred Ill (speaker)
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
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MAYOR: The Claire Zachanassian Endowment has been accepted. Unanimously. Not for the sake of the money—

THE COMMUNITY: Not for the sake of the money—

MAYOR: But for the sake of justice—

THE COMMUNITY: But for the sake of justice—

MAYOR: And to allay our conscience.

THE COMMUNITY: And to allay our conscience.

MAYOR: For we cannot live if we sanction a crime in our midst—

THE COMMUNITY: For we cannot live if we sanction a crime in our midst—

Related Characters: Mayor (speaker), Claire Zachanassian, Alfred Ill
Page Number: 104-105
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Alfred Ill Character Timeline in The Visit

The timeline below shows where the character Alfred Ill appears in The Visit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Irony and Artifice Theme Icon
The Schoolmaster, the Mayor, the Priest, and Alfred Ill, Güllen’s “most popular personality,” arrive at the railway station and review their preparations for Claire’s... (full context)
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Love and Prostitution Theme Icon
As Ill helps the Mayor prepare for his speech, the two of them discuss Claire. She was... (full context)
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...recognizes that his speech alone will not secure an endowment from Claire; he calls on Ill to exploit his connection to the billionairess—to appeal to her nostalgia for their young love.... (full context)
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As Claire takes her leave of the Supervisor, Ill steps forward to welcome her, bringing the two together for the first time in forty-five... (full context)
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...who hold twigs in outspread hands and proclaim themselves to be trees. Here, Claire and Ill encounter the tree that they once inscribed with their names; Claire comments that the names... (full context)
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Noticing the boulder on which she and Ill once kissed and the trees and bushes under which they made love, Claire reminisces about... (full context)
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Ill expresses regret about how things turned out, but newly pledges himself to Claire, eager to... (full context)
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A scene change relocates Ill, Claire, the entourage, and the tree-men (who are men once again) to the Golden Apostle,... (full context)
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...Justice of Güllen, he arbitrated a paternity case that a seventeen-year-old Claire had brought against Ill. Ill falsely denied fathering Claire’s love child, and brought two witnesses to corroborate his claim,... (full context)
Justice, Morality, and Money Theme Icon
Love and Prostitution Theme Icon
...the only condition Güllen must satisfy before receiving her billion-dollar endowment: someone must kill Alfred Ill, the man that wronged her. (full context)
Act 2
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...opens with a view of Claire’s balcony at the dilapidated Golden Apostle Inn, foregrounded by Ill’s general store opposite what seems to be the Policeman’s office. (full context)
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...across the stage to place on the empty coffin Claire brought with her to Güllen. Ill anxiously looks on through the window of his shop, worrying that the ritual will remind... (full context)
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Ill momentarily turns his thoughts away from the price on his head and speaks briefly with... (full context)
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As Ill’s children leave the shop, a townsman enters looking to buy cigarettes—a more expensive brand than... (full context)
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Ill and his customers look on, condemning Claire for sitting high and mighty on her balcony... (full context)
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The play cuts back to the shop, where Ill has suddenly noticed that all his customers are wearing new yellow shoes. This development, on... (full context)
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A nervous Ill rushes out of his shop to the Policeman, demanding that he arrest Claire for inciting... (full context)
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Only more desperate after his disconcerting conversation with the Policeman, Ill heads for the Mayor’s office. When Ill arrives, he notices the bureaucrat casually handling a... (full context)
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As Ill downheartedly takes leave of the Mayor’s office, we cut once again to the balcony of... (full context)
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We shift back to Ill, who has now come to plead with Güllen’s Pastor. The Pastor, like the Mayor, totes... (full context)
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Irony and Artifice Theme Icon
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...two shots are fired and the startled Pastor briefly recovers his moral clarity. He urges Ill to leave town before he and the Gülleners commit some greater treachery than buying new... (full context)
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...condolences. But before the townspeople have the opportunity to sing their dirge for the panther, Ill interrupts them, paranoid that they are singing the funeral song for him. He dismisses the... (full context)
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The next morning, Ill heads for the railway station with his suitcase, intending to catch the next train out... (full context)
Act 3
Justice, Morality, and Money Theme Icon
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...debts and now need her help more than ever, but they still refuse to kill Ill on account of their “Western principles.” They plead with Claire to revise her offer—to buy... (full context)
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...her a whore. Now, she reminds the men, she is in control and she wants Ill dead. The Teacher protests, invoking human kindness as a reason for Claire to abandon her... (full context)
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Claire takes leave of the disheartened Teacher and Doctor and we cut to Ill’s general store. The once dingy and dated shop is now immaculate and it has updated... (full context)
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We learn from Mrs. Ill that her husband has cloistered himself above his shop, and has been nervously pacing the... (full context)
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...negative about Claire. But they are thrown off when the journalists begin to ask Mrs. Ill about the love triangle involving her, Ill, and Claire forty-five years ago. Hoping the journalists... (full context)
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...before he can lay bare their betrayals and Claire’s blood-thirst, but all are interrupted by Ill’s entrance. The Gülleners worry that Ill might tell the journalists about the price on his... (full context)
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...marrying (then divorcing) her eighth, the journalists rush out of the shop. Not long after, Ill’s wife and her customers also take off, leaving Ill and the Teacher alone. The Teacher... (full context)
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Ill’s resignation sobers the Teacher, who recognizes that, in a way, Ill is to blame for... (full context)
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Mrs. Ill and Il''s son and daughter return to the shop. Ill observes that his daughter now... (full context)
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...to prepare for the trip just before the Mayor enters the shop to speak to Ill. He has apparently come to offer Ill a gun ahead of a public meeting scheduled... (full context)
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Ill’s family returns wearing their fineries and they pile into their new car with Ill. As... (full context)
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...Hong Kong when they started to bother her). She dismisses her retinue when she discovers Ill, hoping to spend some time with him. Despite everything that has happened, the two share... (full context)
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The Mayor once again takes the floor and he asks Ill if he will respect the town’s decision to accept Claire’s offer. Ill responds in the... (full context)
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A disheartened Ill pleads with God, which the journalists’ interpret as a cry of joy. The press asks... (full context)
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...restaurant of the Golden Apostle. The Gülleners stay behind in the auditorium, and descend upon Ill once all the journalists have left. They offer Ill a cigarette and their prayers, but... (full context)
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Claire enters and collects the body. When she examines Ill’s corpse, she sees the boy she loved forty-five years ago—her dear “black panther.” She has... (full context)
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...train accompanied by her “noble entourage”—her husband, her attendants, and now the body of Alfred Ill. (full context)