Our Town

Our Town spans twelve years in the life of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, portraying both routine daily life and major events in the lives of George Gibbs, Emily Webb and their families. Each act centers on their family life, preceded by a street scene of casual conversation with such townsfolk as the paperboy, milkman, and constable. 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 immediately apparent that life rather than individual lives is being decided.
As the Stage Manager says: "This is the way we were in our growing-up and in our marrying and in our doctoring and in our living and in our dying." It offers a compassionate glimpse of that time before the Great Wars, before our innocence was lost forever. Our Town is not just about the relationship between Emily and George and, indeed, is not just about a small town in northern New England a hundred years ago. As we are about to take a long leap into the future we are forced, not only to look ahead to what we might become, but also to turn and look back at what allowed us to arrive at this threshold of the new millennium. The characters in Our Town tell us what they knew of life; its pain and hope, its simplicity and truth. What they say is what they believe and are. I feel that Thornton Wilder believed that life was meaningful only when lived with full awareness of the value of the present moment.
Thornton Wilder said that Our Town was not supposed to be a speculation about the conditions of life after death. I believe that he meant it to find a value above all price for the smallest events of our daily life. 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 in life, you should live life as full as you possibly can, where you live or how much money you have should not have an effect on how you live your life. Whether you are poor, rich, good-looking, ugly, popular, smart, etc. you should always appreciate life, and most people don?t appreciate the miracle of life, others do, but not enough really understand that they shouldn?t let life pass them by because who knows?this might be your only shot at it. When we believe the work of the imagination we?re telling ourselves: "this is the way things are, I have always known it without being fully aware that I knew it." I think of Our Town not as a sad and sentimental play but as a celebration of daily life in the knowledge of death's inevitability. I believe that Our Town was an autobiographical play bringing together memories of Thornton Wilder?s childhood and adulthood.
The tragic waste caused by the failure to grasp the value of common, routine events becomes apparent in the cemetery scene at the end of Our Town. In her brief return to life, Emily realizes that she has let much of her life 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 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 greatness, but the failure to appreciate the beauty of daily life. I believe this is the understanding that he wanted readers to have after reading his play.