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Our Town

 "They don’t understand, do they?”


"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 so?!
"They don’t understand, do they?”


 Live your life!


"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.


 "To see a world in a grain of sand...” (W.Blake)


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...


Love vs. Time


Instead of 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...

In my 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.

Live people don't understand, do they?


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.


Stop at once and think of what life is


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.


A significant play about insignificant things


"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 and staging? 
     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.

     Our 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, 1624)


My view on "Our town"


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 everyday life.
     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.

     The 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.


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