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Our Town

Average Rating 4
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(40)

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2 Star

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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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2008

    Our Town-Enjoy Life Before It's Too Late

    To be honest, most plays can't be very meaningful when all the viewer has is the script. 'Our Town' is different, though. The beginning of the play is kind of slow and flat, but once the second act begins, it's obvious that life in the simple town of Grovers Corner, New Hampshire, is actually quite interesting. Despite its simplistic name, this play has several main points: Life is too short we all need to appreciate it before we never can again, even the most simple things and the most boring towns can be fascinating and vital in their own way, and, lastly, we don't have to always be so extravagant in order to be understood. Come to think of it, not much happens in this play (only about 4 important scenes occur), but those scenes really make a person think. If you're looking for an easy read that's still meaningful, I suggest you pick up a copy of 'Our Town.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2005

    descriptive, helps reader see the play in their head

    ¿Our Town¿ is a Pulitzer Prize winning play. The book is about the town and the people of Grover¿s Corners. It describes some of the characters by showing their characteristics through actions and dialect rather than just telling the reader what they¿re like. The second act is about love and marriage. The section is set three years after act 1. There is a wedding that takes place between George and Emily. The third act is set nine years after the second, in the summer of 1913. The third act is about death. Emily dies and the play shows the impact of her death on the other characters of the town and helps relay the message of the play to the reader. Thornton Wilder did a very good job writing this play. It has all the elements of a book but is more descriptive and helps the reader achieve more of a mental picture of the town and the people and what¿s going on in the story. He uses flashbacks a couple times to give the reader background information, but he flashes forward a lot more often. Wilder puts little bits of information into a character as he is describing their actions. For example, when he describes Doc Gibbs and his actions in the middle, he writes that Mr. Gibbs died in 1930. These kind of literary tools help make the play interesting and also make it able to hold the reader¿s attention because it gives the reader some more information about the character and helps them get a better picture of the story and characters in it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2005

    An American Classic

    Our Town is an amazing play which has stood the test of time. Each act seperate in tone and style gives the reader a unique perspective into the lives of two family in Grovers Corners.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2004

    good

    i enjoyed this play very much. it was a little confusing at some points but overall i think it was a good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2003

    First time I read this book

    Im a 10 grader at Orono High School. In my english class Im reading 'Our Town', and I think its a great play! I don't like reading that much, but this really is good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2003

    Kate, a nurse and sister, April 24th

    Our Town is a very simplistic book. Very slow to start but has a great overall meaning and makes you fall in love with Emily Webb. My sister performed as Emily in a high school play and brought a whole new aspect to the play. If you are leary of reading the book...see the play!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2003

    Our Town

    I thought the beginning was sorta boring and common. Then, once I got to the end I loved it. The theme is great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2002

    a tad bit to unrealistic

    Our Town was on one hand a dream town, but on the other it was to unrealistic. Also the end was very odd, but also it was just the characters looking back on their lives. i just kind of lost interest when the dead were the main characters of the 3rd act.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2000

    Classic American Play

    It was good. It is obviously enough of a classic that the school board thought it would do for an AP English class to read an analyze. The characters were a little too innocent for me to believe though. But I guess that was just the time period. I found Mrs. Soaames delightful;. It was definitely a good read.

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