Grace 1Seo Yeon Roh22/09/12English 10 A/BOur Town Essay Life’s Preciousness and Humans’ Ignorance; the Theme ofOur Town ‘You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth orfalsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you’, said C.S.Lewis. This quote isclosely related to the play Our Town that was written by Thornton Wilder,becauseboth of them deal with life and death. Nevertheless, the theme that theauthor of the play wanted to present is not as simple as it sounds, thus, it has causedmany controversies about what the play was meantto be over the past time. In myopinion, the play has reflected the author’s nostalgic view on humans’ lives,however, it has also reflected his cynical view on humans themselves. The authorhas effectively exploited the literary elements, such as the actions and conversationthat the main character, Emily, had during the act III, to convey the main themeprecisely. Prior to explaining the reasons of what I think of the theme, the play OurTown’s plot consists of many very crucial incidents. It mainly deals with a typicalcountryside Americans’ lives, but in a seriously simple way. The charactersindeedhave monotonous and dull daily routines. They have nothing much exciting or new,but have familiar and old ways of living. There are two main families that lead thestory until the end, the Webbs and the Gibbs. Emily Webb and George Gibbs fromeach sides of family get married in the end, but Emily Gibbs dies of childbirth in herage of 27. This is the main event of act II and I. In act III, Emily chooses to go back toa day of her life and re-live it. However, during the day she has chosen, she finds out
Grace 2Seo Yeon Roh22/09/12English 10 A/BOur Town Essaysomething very important and endeavors to deliver it to us indirectly through theconversation, and it is the part that has brought about many diverse suppositions onwhether the author’s opinion on life is positive or negative. To start with, in many parts of the play Our Town, the characters refer theirlives to amazing bliss that isgiven by the god, and they are generallypresented in theform of conversations. More specifically, they are usually seen from the act III,which’s majority is considered as climax of the play. Many of the conversations andmonologues that Emily speaks of include her and maybe the author’s affectiontowards the life that she had already passed by. From the page 97 in the play, Emilysays, ‘They’re so young and beautiful.’ In this case, they not only refers to her family,but also to every living human beings, which, I think, is the indirect message fromthe author to have the readers aroused on the fact that we must realize beforepassing away that the world is full of amazement. In addition to this, Emily also says‘Oh earth, you are too wonderful for anyone to realize you.’ This line directlydivulges to us that our life is truly beautiful. Moreover, there are some behavioralgrounds from act III that helped me thinkthat the author cherishes life. The play Our Town’s beginning tended to be boring. Vast majority of theanalyzers say that it was done intentionally to emphasize the plots in the act III, and Iagree with it. It totally changed its ambience into more energetic mood, and sincethe previous atmosphere of the play was extremely dull, the rapid change ofemotion could allow him to have the readers be more concerned about what theauthor meant to tell and show. Because there was a huge emotional change in act III,many characters tended to do abnormal actions, standing on the boundary of life
Grace 3Seo Yeon Roh22/09/12English 10 A/BOur Town Essayand death. On page 91, the dead does not recommend her to live over again evenfor a single day. It is considered an odd reaction because they seem to knowsomething but did not tell her straight away. They wanted to let her experience it,and perceive what it is by herself. This is what the author wanted the readers do aswell. The way he used helped the readers be more conscious of the author’s ownspecial concept on life. Moreover, on page 100, Emily abruptly cries out with a bigand strong voice that she cannot bare any more of her life. It was indeed a suddenresponse to her opportunity to look back everything and to be prepared for herdeath. ‘We don’t have times to look back another’, said Emily on this page. Ipersonally think that the author wanted to express that life is too wonderful andgrateful for every person in the world to even realize that they are blessed. Thesupposition on the author’s such expression that I have about this part is that hewanted us to notice the pleasure of life and learn the ways to treasure it. In otherwords, we should enjoy every moment because tomorrow would be too late, asdeath is coming closer to us. The idea that is found in the actions from the climax ofthe play also has a correlation with the fact that humans are unenlightened to noticethe life’s real value. As mentioned previously, the author points out that the humans apt tooverlook the preciousness of their lives. Because of this fact, he expressed theatmosphere of some characters lines and actions in a critical way when describinghow the live are. Simon Stimson, for instance, speaks in a very cynical way to showhis opinion on humans. He said, ‘That is what it was to be alive. To move about in acloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those…those
Grace 4Seo Yeon Roh22/09/12English 10 A/BOur Town Essayabout you.’His line directly criticizes the fact that humans are not aware of life’simportance and prominence, thus, culminating in less wonderful life that is full ofignorance as Simon Stimson has said. Moreover, at the end of the play Our Town,Emily says that people do not understand, and it is the part that was embroiled inthe most disputes during the entire play. In the play, this was questioned towardsMrs.Gibbs, but it can also be widely understood as a kind of literary element that isquestioning towards us, the readers. When reading this part, the readers commenceon thinking what they, which actually refers to the readers themselves, do notunderstand and they will stick to it until the end of the play. Therefore, ThorntonWilder must have desired to teach us that we should worship our lives through thevery last part of the play, which says ‘They don’t understand’. As time went by, the author has passed away and there is no one left who canexplain the true meaning of the play. But I have a valid speculation that was made byan analysisthrough the eyes of many characters, mainly through Emily’s action andlines in act III. Consequently, throughOur Town, Thornton Wilder wanted to tell usthat lives are extremely fantastic, and criticize those who are full of complaints aboutthe world. As we read and watch along this play, we will eventually realize thegreatness of the profound message from the play, therefore, I would recommendthe others to have an opportunity to watch the play.