"Our town” is a very symbolic
play. Nearly no scenery, but a number of questions, themes and brilliant ideas.
The first symbol is the stage manager's watch that represents the passage of
time and the inevitability of death. The second group of symbols – gardens and
flowers – represent the glories of nature that people tend to ignore. And the
third symbol that I want to speak about is an umbrella.
At Emily’s funeral everybody has an umbrella, except for Emily. Then the author
says: "Umbrellas live the stage”. He personalizes it. Why? I suppose, that’s
because of the very idea of the play. Emily got the truth, she managed to get
out of that circle of banal life. She began to treasure LIFE, every minute of
it. And the others were somewhat blind.
As for the theme, I’d like to speak about only one of them that I like most of
all: "Little things in life are really big things”. This theme points out that
even the most insignificant days and moments in everyday life are actually
among the most important ones. However, we understand it only when it is too late
and everything has actually passed. When at the cemetery Emily asks: "They
don’t understand, do they?” No, they don’t. It’s a well-known fact that the
young tend to think that the most precious moment of life is waiting for them
and will happen some day. And the old believe that their best days have already
passed. Passed! When they were YOUNG.
So, we’re never satisfied with our life, are we? Maybe it’s good because it
gives us a stimulus for self-development, but… - there is always "a but” in our
life* - when do we treasure our existence? When do we say truthfully that
EVERYTHING is OK? Everything! I suppose, never. But we very often say that
NOTHING goes well. Isn’t it
"They don’t understand, do they?”
"Our town” is a play the
main actions of which take place in a small town. But I must admit that people
are very proud of the place where they live. They know its history. They always
pay attention to the population. And the most important thing is that everybody
takes care of each other. They are always ready to help their neighbors when
it’s necessary. And I guess it’s the main characteristic of the town. So
everyone knows each other.
There are two families: the Webbs and the Gibbs. But still, the main heroine of
the play is Mrs. Webb’s daughter- Emily. At the beginning of the play she is a
little girl but even at this time she has some inner problems: she is from a
poor family, but she is very clever and she wants to become successful, to find
a good husband and to enjoy her life. I can’t say that her problems are
universal. Actually she is a usual girl who just wants to be happy. Her life
isn’t simple so perhaps that is the main reason for her sufferings.
But this is not the end of the story. We see how Emily grows up, what happens
to her. To tell the truth in spite of the fact that her life is quite ordinary
(and I guess that is the main message of the author- to show the reader that
the people in this town are quite similar to people from every corner of the
earth), her problems are quite ordinary too, so they can be interesting for
everyone. But her fortune is quite tragical. She dies at childbirth. But her
ghost is back to the earth for a few hours. It seems that the author gives
Emily a second chance: to feel the life, to realize how it is wonderful- just
to live, to breathe, and to see your relatives and friends, to be alive. I
guess the author tries to show us that during our life we never think about the
life itself, we don’t value it. And that is our great mistake that
unfortunately will never be corrected.
Quite an ordinary play, simple
plot, insignificant issues, ordinary author's message – these are not the very
words to characterize the play "Our Town” by Thornton Wilder.
It tells us about... what? About some people living in a small American town.
The same as others. Just one among many thousands. And these people wake up, go
to work, chat, cook, gossip, bring their children up, sleep, eat, drink,
dream... everyday routine. They just live. But they don't appreciate the life
itself. It's just passing by. Slowly, pleasantly... it floats before their
eyes. Until they die.
What makes the play different? The only one character – the Stage Manager. He
rules the whole action, he tells the readers about the town, its citizens and
their destinies... he seems to be the Master of their being. The Stage Manager
also has an ability to manipulate the Time. He turns the clock back and
forward, the boarders between the Past, the Present and the Future fade away.
The Time doesn't have any sense, only Life matters.
And what is the idea of the play? Remember the last action. Emily relives her
12th birthday. What does she pay her attention at? Gestures, looks, details.
The smallest pieces of her life, the most insignificant things. But still, are
they really of no importance? It turns out that every minuteness has sense. The
life is just a great number of moments. And if we do not appreciate a moment,
what have we got to value then? "To see a world in a grain of sand...”
To see the whole life in a moment...
preface... Grover's Corners is a small town. It's similar to thousands of towns
in the USA. This town is very conservative and closed. The life of this town is
everyday routine without anything significant. There's only one person who is
unlike other citizens of the town. Her name is Emily. She wants to make her
life really significant...
opinion, one of the most important episodes in the play is the conversation
between George and Rebecca. This episode is in strong position to make us to
realize that this town is a real place with real people. Grover's Corners is a
small part of the whole society. So we understand that our life is like the
life of the citizens of this town. It means that in our life there's not
anything significant. The climax of the play is a moment when Emily realizes that people don't
live, but run their lives. They don't understand that the happiness and life
itself consist in small small things, gestures, glances. And the role of the
Stage Manager is a role of God. But this God allows himself to change fates of
people, to help them, to show them things they can't or don't want to see. And
only after their death the Stage Manager tells them the whole truth about their
finished life. A very important moment in the play is the day of marriage. The author
links this day with the day when George and Emily realized that they want ti
live their lives together. The author shows us that we can't stop the time, but
we can play with it, that's why he deviates from chronology to prove his point
of view. And another interesting thing is that we live and feel only the
important moments of our life, but from one such moment to another we only run
our lives. So our life is a race with checkpoints, and we live only in these
checkpoints. And this is a great mistake, because we should live the whole race
of life. I must admit that the technique of chairs and tables, if we can say, is
very amazing. It symbolizes people's vision of life. In our everyday life we
realize the world as a totality of things such as chairs and tables. And only
deads, for example, Emily can realize our world as a totality of feelings and
emotions. It means that we pay more attention to things than to people with
their feelings. And this knowledge makes her shocked and depressed. To conclude I must say that every our action, emotion, thought and word
has its own reflection of the life of the whole Humanity. And a person doesn't
live any minute of his or her life, so a this person doesn't live the whole
life. And the whole Humanity itself doesn't live, but runs its life overcoming
things without noticing people.
The play "Our Town"
by Thornton Wilder takes place in a mediocre small-town. But can we call it
mediocre? Are all small-towns similar? In small town America everything is
quite and slow; nobody cares about politics, not a few are indifferent to
religion. Every person in small town America is concerned about unpretending
issues and events and doesn't want to make his or her life complicated. To put
it in a nutshell, nothing big, important and serious happens. But when Emily is
dead and she returns to her past she experiences and understands the importance
of every tiny detail and event; she understands that if her view on life had
been different, her life could have been brighter.
Life is a sequence of events in every case - good or bad. And when you die,
your main impression of it depends on how you have looked at it - in a positive
or in a negative way. Peple should appreciate life while they are living it.
Even ordinary uneventful activities are important. Indeed, they might be the most
important activities of all - whether they involve smelling flowers, eating
breakfast, chatting with the milkman, looking at the moon... Little things are
really big. But we usualy don't understand it, while we are alive.
Through the use of small town
characters and the element of simplicity, Thornton Wilder creates universal
themes about the cycle of life. The play Our Town tells the story of two simple
families, the Gibbs and the Webbs, living in the town of Grover's Corners, New
Hampshire. In three acts, Wider leads us through the cycle of life, from the
birth of a new life to death. Throughout the play, the reader experiences
eternal life milestones, such as new life, first love, long lasting love and
the phenomenon of death. Wilder makes the Stage Manager speak directly to the
audience, which makes the reader feel apart of the story. All in all, Our Town
by Thornton Wilder is an exceptional play. The last act holds a special
significance. In the last act, Wilder uses the theme of death to show the
reader how humans fail to "realize life while they live it". The
characters in the play realize in the end that people rush through life not
taking the time to enjoy every minute of it. Emily, the main character, has
died in childbirth and she takes her place in the cemetery among the dead, all
of whom patiently wait and watch for something which is not yet clear, the
minutes passing one by one into eternity, their memories of life fading into
nothingness, a portrait of darkness that is yet somehow still seeded with
light. It is here that Wilder makes his ultimate statement: "Who are you
when you have been shorn of all earthly details and devices? Where do you exist
within the mind of God?" With this play, Thornton Wilder tries to propose
his own vision of life - not to live life in a blur and to stop and smell the
roses. Wilder's purpose in writing this play was to inform people of just that,
to live each day to the fullest and have no regrets when it's all over and you
look back to your life.
"Our Town” by Thornton
Wilder is claimed to be one of the most staged American plays. But at the first
gaze this play seems to be inartistic and even the literary stylistics is not
striking at all. Then what makes this piece of art so popular and worth reading
I think that the spirit of this work of literature
consists in its themes. The main one can be formulated like this: you should
appreciate every moment of your life no matter whether it is pleasant or not.
life is not always a chain of outstanding and significant events. The essence
of life lies in the ability to enjoy even trifling matters because these very
petty things push us towards something bigger and meaningful. And when we read
the play, we realize that the characters live the same lives as we do. We all
show our admiration seeing the moon brightly shining in the dark sky. Most
schoolchildren find their classes very important and essential; they do
homework, write cribs, cheat at the lesson and want to become someone in the
future. Spouses quarrel and make peace, worry about their children and are so
happy when they become grandparents. People eat breakfast, chat, smell flowers,
love, fall ill, get married and die. Such things happen almost to everyone on
earth and that is just the course of nature. That is another theme which is
very prominent and which runs through the whole message of the literary work.
Yet the author is very keen to point at another idea:
seize the day, carpe diem. This Latin phrase means that you should take
advantage of every single minute, you may make every second memorable and
delightful. When in the final act the deceased Emily returns to life to visit
Grover's Corners briefly, she sees that there are so many things and
people she didn’t take any notice of. Her experience is bittersweet, making her
realize the importance of simple, ordinary events that make up the patterns of
life. She can’t bear the feeling that she missed so much, and all the
happiness she had will never come back to her…
So the play is actually overendowed with issues that
are vital and which we come across every day. It also gives us the idea that
though we are special and unique, we can’t isolate ourselves from the rest of
the world. "No man is an island, entire of itself; every
man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
........ . . any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never
.......send to know for whom the bell tolls; it
tolls for thee.”( John Donne,
Our town is a philosophical play.
And it is very dear to ordinary people because Grover's Corners is a typical
American small town and its inhabitants are average people who lead prosaic
lives, just like you and me.
Thornton Wilder explores traditional American values
of religion, community, family, and the simple pleasures of life. He uses
innovative elements such as minimalistic stage sets, a Stage Manager who
narrates and controls the action, and a character who speaks from the grave.
Although the setting, characters and events are commonplace, Our Town addresses
such universal themes as mortality, the human condition, and the value of
There are many themes in the play which give food for
thought. The first one is that people should be grateful for life while they
are living it. Even ordinary, uneventful activities are important. We can call
the second theme something like "make the most of the present
moment”. It urges people to live for the moment, seizing opportunities to enjoy
or enrich their lives. Life is short after all, and such opportunities may
present themselves only once.
third theme says that little things in life are really big things. This theme
points out that seemingly insignificant happenings in everyday life are
actually among the most important ones. However, people experiencing them
usually do not comprehend this truth at the time, as Emily observes in the
cemetery when she says to Mrs. Gibbs, "They don’t understand, do they?”
The play is very symbolic. Among the symbols in the
play are the trains, the tombstones, and the stage manager's watch which
represent the time, the moon, the mountains, the lakes, and the gardens of Mrs.
Gibbs and Mrs. Webb, all representing the beauty of nature that people tend to
ignore, because we are always in a hurry. We always want to have time for
everything, to achieve something. But in fact, when you stop for a minute and
think, you realize that you have done too little, that you are still no one,
that you are not as successful as you wanted to be. And all these things happen
only because we can’t enjoy the life's moment. We forgot how to do it. And when
you don’t appreciate life, it won't give you anything in return.