Customer Reviews for

Our Town

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Beautifully Simple

As a play dedicated to recognizing the beauty of simplicity and reiterating the old adage "take nothing for granted," Our Town epitomizes a pure appreciation for life. Without any props, the play stresses the innate elegance of life that requires no enhancement. Free fr...
As a play dedicated to recognizing the beauty of simplicity and reiterating the old adage "take nothing for granted," Our Town epitomizes a pure appreciation for life. Without any props, the play stresses the innate elegance of life that requires no enhancement. Free from unnecessary decoration, the stage setting forces one to recognize the profound message of the play and eliminates the frivolous features that distract from that ultimate lesson.
Thornton Wilder effectively uses characterization to develop the theme of recognizing and appreciating one's blessings in life. Emily, as the main character of the play, undergoes a defining realization that life's beauty is too magnificent for living people to comprehend. Her journey back to her twelfth birthday opens her eyes to the transience of life and her inability to relive moments of true happiness. Initially described as a naïve character whose understanding of life consisted of her personal longings, Emily returns from her trip wiser and more resigned. This shift in mentality-the drastic change from blissful ignorance to burdensome awareness-stresses the importance of appreciating blessings before they are gone.
Contrasting the ideal atmosphere of Grover's Corner, the minor character of Simon Stimson is a misfit in the town's carefree feel. Infamous as the town alcoholic and choir director, Simon Stimson maintains a cynical attitude about life, as best reflected in his defining speech. Equating life to ignorance and blindness, he expresses unexplained bitterness that ultimately culminated in his suicide. While Wilder succeeds in highlighting the need to appreciate life through Simon Stimson's shortcoming, he fails to develop the character to one that is real and believable. In neglecting to address the source of Simon's bitterness, Wilder does not achieve the full potential of such a character.
The play has an overall effect that cannot be defined by any one stylistic element. Diction alone does not stand out, and neither does syntax. Imagery is almost nonexistent, as the stage consists of no more than tables, chairs, and actors. Nevertheless, the combination of various factors distinguishes this play as a noteworthy read, the most impressive aspect of which is its rare simplicity.

posted by Guacamole on June 11, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Not good

Our Town, by Thorton Wilder, was not a work of art, as others may say. In fact, it isn't even a work of anything; it is just a depressing, boring book that says life is meaningless. The story takes place in early 1900's in a small New Hampshire town that has a populatio...
Our Town, by Thorton Wilder, was not a work of art, as others may say. In fact, it isn't even a work of anything; it is just a depressing, boring book that says life is meaningless. The story takes place in early 1900's in a small New Hampshire town that has a population of about 3000 people. The characters in the town don't even know much about the USA, and enjoy things that now days people do as a chore. The people of Grover's Corner are mostly farmers, or workers of the local shops, but occasionally there is some one that moves out of the city. This bland lifestyle makes for a bland book, so don't waste your time reading this "classic." If you enjoy other classics you might like this, but be prepared for an ending that may make you depressed. Overall, Our Town is not a good book, and that's all I have to say.

posted by 539476 on April 8, 2009

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  • Posted June 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully Simple

    As a play dedicated to recognizing the beauty of simplicity and reiterating the old adage "take nothing for granted," Our Town epitomizes a pure appreciation for life. Without any props, the play stresses the innate elegance of life that requires no enhancement. Free from unnecessary decoration, the stage setting forces one to recognize the profound message of the play and eliminates the frivolous features that distract from that ultimate lesson.
    Thornton Wilder effectively uses characterization to develop the theme of recognizing and appreciating one's blessings in life. Emily, as the main character of the play, undergoes a defining realization that life's beauty is too magnificent for living people to comprehend. Her journey back to her twelfth birthday opens her eyes to the transience of life and her inability to relive moments of true happiness. Initially described as a naïve character whose understanding of life consisted of her personal longings, Emily returns from her trip wiser and more resigned. This shift in mentality-the drastic change from blissful ignorance to burdensome awareness-stresses the importance of appreciating blessings before they are gone.
    Contrasting the ideal atmosphere of Grover's Corner, the minor character of Simon Stimson is a misfit in the town's carefree feel. Infamous as the town alcoholic and choir director, Simon Stimson maintains a cynical attitude about life, as best reflected in his defining speech. Equating life to ignorance and blindness, he expresses unexplained bitterness that ultimately culminated in his suicide. While Wilder succeeds in highlighting the need to appreciate life through Simon Stimson's shortcoming, he fails to develop the character to one that is real and believable. In neglecting to address the source of Simon's bitterness, Wilder does not achieve the full potential of such a character.
    The play has an overall effect that cannot be defined by any one stylistic element. Diction alone does not stand out, and neither does syntax. Imagery is almost nonexistent, as the stage consists of no more than tables, chairs, and actors. Nevertheless, the combination of various factors distinguishes this play as a noteworthy read, the most impressive aspect of which is its rare simplicity.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    Our Town is the epitome of the human condition

    My English 10 class recently reed the three act skit Out Town. I enjoyed reading it very much but I certainly started of slow. The first to acts very humorous at times but as the stage manager said the first two acts are on life and sadly the last is not George and Emily¿s marriage but death. i liked it mainly because it reminds me to slow down as much as possible and enjoy life, my family, and people around me. when ever i am fighting with someone i think about Our Town and then i realize what i think is important now, wont be so important later.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2011

    Liked the message, but not the book

    i rated it 3 stars because i love the message, but the way it was distributed was ok. i don't think it shouldve been written as a play. not the worst book i read, but not the best

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A MUST READ

    Our Town is a Pulitzer Prize winning play written by Thornton Wilder in 1938. Our Town is a play told in three acts. It's a very minimalistic play that uses barely any props and set pieces. The actors mime almost all of their actions and even mime some conversations. The character of the stage manager fills in for multiple roles and acts as a buffer between the audience and the acting. He acts as the play's narrator, giving us an even deeper insight into the lives of the characters. Our Town follows the lives of the residents of Grover's Corners through the jovial times and through the miserable times. The play is not long enough for me to go into great detail about it, but suffice it to say it tackles, life, death, marriage, love, birth, and more. In Act I you are introduced into the daily life of the Webb and Gibbs families. Act II, is about the love and marriage of George and Emily. George and Emily are the children from the Webb and Gibbs families. They have lived next door to each other all of their lives and have fallen in love. Act II goes into detail about how they decided to get married and the nerves they were having on the day of their wedding. Act three is about death, Emily's to be exact. You've missed out on nine years of the goings on in Grover's Corners but the stage manager fills you in on the important particulars. Emily decides to revisit a day in her life, so that she can see the people she's left behind once more. I LOVE this play, and I think the reason why I love it is that there is so much truth in what is said. The play as a whole is meant to show that we fill our lives with so many mundane things, that we don't appreciate what we have till it's too late. We don't stop to look around and see the beauty in the people we're sharing our lives with. In the third act, Emily says, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -ever, every minute?" This is the point that Wilder tries to drive home with the play. Wilder wants the reader to see that life can end at any time. You can be any age. It doesn't just happen to those that are old, the young can die as well, just as suddenly. He tries to bring an appreciation to life that most people don't understand. Emily is told that it's better to forget the living; the memories of what you didn't do or who you didn't cherish while you're alive is too much for the dead to handle. Emily responds her agreeance by saying, "Good-by, good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners..Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking.and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths.and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you." I read this book in high school, and also saw my high school produce it for the fall drama one year. Reading it as an adult, especially as a newlywed one has given more poignancy to what I read. Having added also to my years, I'm able to appreciate Wilder's words more. As a high school student you're main focuses are getting a boyfriend/girlfriend, who's the most popular student, playing sports well, not getting a pimple, prom dates, etc. You don't worry about spending time with your family, or cherishing the moments of your first kiss, your first love, the birthdays, that chat you had with your friend at lunch. Reading it as an adult now that has experienced love and death in a variety of ways, I can see what Wilder is sayin better now. Kimberly (Reflections of a Book Addict)

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2010

    Our Town, a Story with a Universal Theme

    Our Town, a play written by Thornton Wilder, is a story that, for awhile, may seem to drag on and be slightly dull, but, at the same time, captures the attention of the reader/viewer and provides an insightful and unique view about humanity. The three-act play is about a little town that is very quiet, includes a small population, and focuses on the two families, the Webbs and the Gibbses. These two families show very important aspects of human life: daily life, love and marriage, and death.
    The acts are fairly uneventful, which may cause the reader/viewer to be bored. However, this is more true to life, because human lives mainly consist of the uneventful, simple occurrences. This makes the play more relatable to the readers/viewers, as any well written story should be, so that its themes have more impact. Even though the setting and time period of the play may be argued as hard to relate to, the characters and plot are realistic and the small town only allows for greater emphasis on the theme. One of the most important themes in the story is not to take the everyday interactions with one another for granted, for those are most important. To emphasize that people can take each other for granted and not notice one another in a slow-paced, quiet town in which everyone knows and cares about one another has greater impact because it limits the excuse of being busy and having too much to do. The play presents this theme near the end of the story when Emily Gibbs, in her afterlife, reviews her twelfth birthday and is disappointed to find that she cannot look at anyone for a long enough period of time, because her twelve-year-old self had not taken the time to think about what was happening and appreciate the everyday interactions she was having with her family and friends. This theme makes the play an excellent piece of literature, because it presents a very important lesson that everyone must learn.
    Therefore, even though Our Town is slow paced and may even seem somewhat dull and boring in the beginning, it presents an important message that pertains to almost everyone who reads/views this story. Everyone could take time to appreciate someone or something more than they do, and that message makes this play an effective work of art.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Not good

    Our Town, by Thorton Wilder, was not a work of art, as others may say. In fact, it isn't even a work of anything; it is just a depressing, boring book that says life is meaningless. The story takes place in early 1900's in a small New Hampshire town that has a population of about 3000 people. The characters in the town don't even know much about the USA, and enjoy things that now days people do as a chore. The people of Grover's Corner are mostly farmers, or workers of the local shops, but occasionally there is some one that moves out of the city. This bland lifestyle makes for a bland book, so don't waste your time reading this "classic." If you enjoy other classics you might like this, but be prepared for an ending that may make you depressed. Overall, Our Town is not a good book, and that's all I have to say.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2000

    Totally Amazing

    This book was absolutely incredible. If you really take the time to think about what is going on, this play has alot of meaning. I especially liked the last scene where Emily realizes her own death, what she has to deal with, and finally coming to terms with her final resting place. If you just think about the ending scene, it is really touching.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2002

    Death

    For one I love to read but when a book is boring I stop reading.I also judge by the cover but this was a misgudgement of mine.This play was so interesting. There was no moment where i was bored or uninterested.This book includes a great theory of death read it and youll figure it out.Death is extremely important in this play so pay close attention and dont get distracted because things change in a heart beat.I love the way its a play within a play.I highly recomend this play if you are looking for great american literature.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2000

    The best

    This play has affected my life more than any other single piece of literature. I think that if you read it and see what it means, every day of your life can be more meaningful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2000

    all i have to say is... wow!

    I decided to read Our Town because my school was going to perform it. The time Skips areound a little but the play is awsome. I really got involved with the characters. It really made me think. I loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 1999

    Deep and Insightful, it will give you a new perspective

    It was a truely great play. I recomend all watch or read it. The perspective it gives you will make you really pay attention to your life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2014

    More than you thought

    An innovative and interesting novel. The last chapter/act is very deep on many levels. I'm interested in reading more Wilder now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    Wilds plays were different and that what counts with a play

    Goodness knows shakespeare is hard to play and read with no props. Greek plays are worse and were meant to be awful with terrible people and gods. Opera? Dead at the end too. After this one try you cant take it with you by wilde and that odd one whose name i cant remember about adam and eve and the coming flood. There use to be a yearly book out of new plays priduced that year. Pagecounter

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    So good...so sad.

    Love this play! We read it in a Creative Writing class I took in 8th grade, and I was blown away. Shout out to the awesomeness of teachers who point their students toward classic works even if they're not presently part of their curriculum. Mrs. Hobbs in Laurinburg, NC took our class to 4 plays and expanded our 13 year old horizons. Read this play and it will do the same for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2014

    CITY HALL

    Were city leaders meet

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2014

    Luke

    Walks in

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 17, 2013

    "Life sucks and then you die" in agonizing, endless re

    "Life sucks and then you die" in agonizing, endless repetition.  Given a choice between sitting through a production of Our Town and having a root canal (without Novocaine) I would gladly choose the root canal.  The Emperor has no clothes, but everyone is afraid to admit that they didn't get the point of Our Town, which has no point.  I can only agree with the reviewer who wanted to leave a negative billon stars.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

    Simple Yet Compelling

    While some authors use superfluous details and descriptions, Thornton Wilder does quite the opposite in his play Our Town. The simple language and straightforward plot used in this play about a small New Hampshire town in the early 1900's makes it initially appear to be a quick and easy read. However, as the reader nears the end of the play they realize Our Town is much more than that. The thought provoking themes about death and the important things in life subtly incorporated into the play make it a quality piece of literature capable of spanning generations.
    Wilder expresses the themes in Our Town in a way that was both unique to his time and to today. While most plays include an assortment of scenery and props, this play uses the bare minimum. Additionally the use of the stage manager to control the course of the play helps to detach the readers and enables them to better understand the themes and relate to the characters at the end of the play. This unique staging exemplifies the theme that it is not the material objects and extravagant aspects of life that are important, but the relationships and seemingly inconsequential aspects of everyday life that give life its meaning. In death it is realized that the living never truly appreciate these little things. The simple plot which shows the everyday lives of two small-town families continues to enhance this theme. Additionally, the continuation of these daily patterns even after the death of certain characters shows how natural processes continue throughout time and among all people. When George and Emily are fearful of entering into matrimony, the subtle push of nature to continue the natural patterns of life is portrayed as acting upon them. Though the plot in the first two acts contains little to no conflict, this lack of conflict sets up a solid background to compare the final act against when the dead contemplate life.
    Overall, the staging and plot create a unique play that is successful in showcasing its themes and causing the reader to truly contemplate the ideas that Wilder expresses. Though the play might be written in a simple manner, it is actually a very deep and meaningful commentary on life. The universality of these themes along with the generality of the characters and setting causes Our Town to be a timeless and truly wonderful piece of literature.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    If I could give this book a negative 100000000000000 stars, I would.

    I have loved many classics. The Counte of Monte Cristo, Farenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird...the list goes on, but out of all the classics I've read, I HATED Our Town. The shallow lives of the characters were superficial, the sad little plot was terrible, and in all honesty, what lessons in this book could you have not learned in a Spongebob Episode? Many people say that this book is "a great lesson in life" and "filled with depth and wonderful lessons" but seriously, people. You expect me to just die and sit on some chair and stare at the stars until it's "time"? You think our lives today are like that? You think we can just take things as they are and be shallow in our lives and ignore alcholism and act like it's still the 1900's? Puh-leez. I am aware that this book teaches you to live life to the fullest, but who doesn't already know that? You could find a shirt in Gap that says those words and have had your life changes as much as if you've read Our Town. No one in todays life is as simple as the characters in this book, and if you think that they are, then wake up! This is the twenty-fist century. It's about time you acted like it. I'm serious. DON'T READ THIS BOOK. If you're looking for something more entertaining to do than read Our Town, go bash your head against the wall. You'll have a much, MUCH better time.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2008

    The essence of a life in three acts

    I really enjoyed this. I love the way Mr. Wilder captured the small town feeling and sleepiness as well as the fact that life and joy are both finite and infinite in that they¿ll physically cease but we¿ll always carry them with us and that that is amazing, as corny as that sounds. ¿Wasn¿t life awful, and wonderful?¿ I think I could search millions of quotes and not find it put better anywhere. I also loved the assertion that it¿s really the little things, those tiny moments that have more meaning than you could ever describe in words.

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