Our Town Essay, Research Paper
Thornton Wilder?s Our Town spans twelve years in the life of Grover?s Corners, New Hampshire. Throughout this time period the play portrays both routine daily life and major events in the lives of George Gibbs, Emily Webb, and their families. Present throughout is the Stage Manager who gives informal commentary and explanation of the play?s characters and events. Although the play begins and ends in Grover?s Corners, it ranges far beyond the village boundaries. As specific as the dates, places, and characters are, it is apparent that life in general rather than individual lives is the focus.
The characters in the book go about life as if it truly were a scripted play. There is no spontaneity or excitement. I believe Wilder?s purpose in this is to portray the importance of finding value above all price for even the smallest events in our daily lives. To appreciate everything without exception in life. Our claim, our hope, and our despair are what we make of them and only we have the power to change them. The scenery that surrounds us is not important, you should live life as full as you possibly can. You should always appreciate life, and most people do not. Others do, but not enough really understand that they shouldn?t let life pass them by because who knows, this may be your only shot at it. I see Our Town not as a sad and sentimental play but as a celebration of daily life in the knowledge of death?s inevitability.
The tragedy in failing to grasp the value of common, routine events becomes evident in the cemetery scene at the end of Our Town. In her brief return to life, Emily realizes that she has let much of it slip past her attention. ?It goes so fast? she cries. ?We don?t have time to look at one another.? In tears she asks the Stage Manager, ?Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?? He replies, ?No?the saints and the poets maybe — they do some.? Unable to endure her grief, Emily is quite willing to return to the realm of the dead.
Wilder once said, ?The cause of man?s unhappiness is not his failure to achieve or sustain greatness, but his failure to delight in the beauty of ordinary existence.? I think he means that the cause of people?s unhappiness is not the failure to achieve good things, but the failure to appreciate the beauty and value of daily life, no matter how plain or ordinary. I believe this is the understanding that he wanted readers to have after reading his play.