Our Town


Our Town Essay, Research Paper

Our Town

1. Thorton Wilder was one of the most cosmopolitan and sophisticated of American writers. Born in the Midwest on April 17, 1897, he was educated in China, in Germany language schools, in America, and in Rome. He was thoroughly familiar with classical literature. In 1938 he wrote Our Town. In this play Wilder gained admiration for his serious philosophical concerns and use of theatrical techniques. When reading Our Town it is difficult to find one major conflict. The ideas imbedded behind the scenes deal with the importance of love, the continuity of human life, the beauty of life, and the meaning of life. The topic of love is seen many times throughout the play. All the characters are brought together by love however, each relationship and each love is different. Throughout the play it is very easy to notice the different loves. In act one love is centered on the family, the main characters seem to show unconditional love for one another. In the second act the word of love changes to romance, as Emily and George fall in love. In act three love is shown in the most unconditional way. Unselfish love that expects no return. As the play moved forward we work constantly reminded that like this one continuous cycle. The play itself begins with birth and ends in death. The stage manager also insinuates this idea by comparing generations. The strongest theme in Our Town is the beauty of life. This theme helps show us the wonderful happenings of everyday existence that most people will ignore and is only sometimes grasped by poets and saints. 2. After a short analysation of Our Town the plot reveals itself very easily. It has been said that Our Town has no plot at all, in that the stage manager tells a few stories about life in Grover’s Corners and sends the audience on their way. The simplicity behind the plot is what brought excellence to the play. Wilder tries throughout the play to show the importance of ideas not personalities, and let each individual audience member gain something different from the play. The play begins while people are still entering the theater and being seated. A character known only as the stage manager enters a bare, partly lit stage. He begins rummaging around on stage acting as a stagehand setting up for the first act. The stage manager begins by telling you that you are in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, in 1901. The first action seen on stage is everyday activity between the Webbs and the Gibbses. Dr. Gibbs comes home from the hospital and the wives catch up on gossip while they work. The stage manager interrupts with some more information and the children come home from school. Time passes very quickly. The stage manager tells you that act two will be love and marriage. George and Emily by the end of the act will be wed. In the middle of this act they take you back to a scene from George and Emily’s courtship. Act three opens in the graveyard; the stage manager tells you that nine years have passed. Emily has died and her grave is being prepared. Night comes to Grover’s corners, and the stage manager wishes the audience a good night. 3. In Our Town, the actors have plenty of room for their own influences to fit in, because Wilder depicts types rather than individuals. All the people in Grover?s Corners are individualistic. By doing this Wilder left room for each audience member to connect with each character in their own way. Emily Webb is the daughter of the editor of the town paper. She marries George Gibbs and dies giving birth to their second child. She is the girl who grows up during the play. Her speeches at the end of the play are very important George Gibbs, the son of Dr. Gibbs, is the boy next door who marries Emily. Both George and Emily represent typical American children. He is nice and polite, but not very bright. Throughout his whole life he was always lagging behind in maturity. Doctor Frank Gibbs is the loving father and husband every man wants to be. He is at total peace with his living conditions and life. Mr. Charles Webb is the editor of the local newspaper and enjoys studying Napoleon. As presented before the parents of George and Emily are also typical and alike. Julia Hersey Gibbs is Doc Gibbs?s wife and the mother of George and Rebecca. She spends her day as a housewife and her nights as a model wife and mother. Like her neighbor, Mrs. Myrtle Webb is a wife and mother. What separates her is that she was once the second prettiest girl in the town. The women in the play, like their husbands, are interchangeable. They both reflect each other in the same ways. I?ve saved the most important character for last, the Stage Manager. Though he has a minor role in the flow of the story he has the most speeches, is always on stage and has the longest part in the play. Throughout the play the stage manager portrays God in several ways. He can move time and knows the future. Even though the audience can?t miss him the characters never seem to see him. 4. The life styles of the characters in the play are stereotypical of small town life. Everyday was perfect, the husbands go off to work and the wives send the kids off to school. Emily did regular little girl activities and was proud to be smart. George loved to throw around the baseball and play outside. Wilder kept the setting and stage clear and open to imagination to make clear the he is talking about everyone?s town, just as he is talking about universal feelings and emotions, about human life in general, rather than about a few specific lives.

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