Ourtown is Yourtown
", by Thornton Wilder
. The title itself is representative of what the writer
wants to convey. Ourtown does not mean the town of Emily, George, and the Gibbs. Rather,
Ourtown refers to the small town in each of our hearts
. The heart of the spectator
, the most
in Ourtown, without whom, the play simply falls apart. Grover's Corners
itself, the people, places, and events, is simply a symbol
which plays into the mind of the
spectator. They are simply symbols and refrence
s for our town.
begins the play with an introduction
of the play. In his introduction
the stage manager
forces the audience to understand that this is play, and that they are in
a theater, watching. He tells us that the characters are not the characters, but actors representing
the characters. He informs us of what is where in Grover's Corners
, and introduces some of the
characters. This is Wilders first step in forcing the audience to become a collaborator. He
makes the audience understand, explicitly, that they are watching a play, and he doesn't want them
to forget that fact.
After the introduction, a conversation ensues between Dr. Gibbs and Joe Crowell Jr.
The conversation is as generic and boring as it could possibly be as they talk about the
and Joe Crowell Jr.'s knee. The conversations eventually fall into a generic morning at
the Webb's and Gibb's. Thornton Wilder
has now accomplished the second step in forcing the
audience to become a collaborator. He makes the audience associate the standard boring morning
of Grovers Corners with the mornings of their own lives, perhaps not right at this point, but
here is where it begins to happen.
The conversations are obviously not important, since the stage manager
to ask Professor Willard to explain more about the town and the surrounding area and to ask
Mr. Webb, the towns newspaper editor, about the politics and social atmosphere of Grover's
. Here, Wilder again introduces a stage of antirealism
and blatantly encourages the
audience to become a collaborator
by having actors who are acting as members of the audience
to ask Mr. Webb questions.
The audience is then exposed to another round of boring conversation which expresses
a love intrest between Emily and George, and Emily wondering aloud to her mother about whether
she was pretty. This exchange is interrupted by the Stage Manager, who once again reinforces
of the play and talks directly to the audience
, and asks them what they think
the citizens of Grover's Corners
should put in the cornerstone, to make the audience a collaborator.
He also mentions that he is going to put this play ("ourtown
") in the cornerstone, and mentions
the themes of the three acts. The combination of the direct, if rhetorical questioning of the
audience, and the statement that the stage manager will put "ourtown
" into the cornerstone forces
the audience to briefly consider the themes of life, marrage, and death.
This continues thruout the play, although Wilder decides to insert some various wisdoms
about topics like marrage
and appreciation of your parents
. This does not break with Wilder's
, since he feels that these concepts are universal
. The combination
of these concepts with the antirealism
feeling of the character
s within the play
is intended to make everyone feel like "ourtown" relates to them in some way. As summed up by
Emily, who says, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?
--every, every minute?"(p100)
, therefore, is not the small town that lies at 42 degrees 40 minutes latitude
70 degrees 37 minutes longitude
, but rather, it is the small town
, big city
of lives, or community
that exists in each of our hearts, pasts, and dreams. It represents not only
any small town anywhere, but any place, existant or otherwise, intresting or not, it is the place that
exists, to Thornton Wilder
and many others, as the place that is often right just beyond our sight,
but always in our hearts.
is intended to prove that Grover's Corners
, the fictional small town in Thornton Wilder
can represent any small town anywhere. Here is the actual assignment as given to me by my English
1. Write a 2 to 3 page essay that shows that Grover's Corners can represent any small town anywhere.
This essay uses the refrence from page 100 from the 1st Perennial Classic edition of "Ourtown, by Thornton Wilder
" published by
Harper & Row Publishers in 1968.
feel free to /msg me what you think of this essay or write what you think of it here.