Customer Reviews for

Our Town

Average Rating 4
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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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  • 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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  • 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 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 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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  • 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 14, 2014

    WHITE HOUSE

    Were the president works

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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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  • 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2006

    A timeless masterpiece!

    This is absolutely my favorite play-it is timeless and universal, pertaining to anyone, anywhere. The story takes place in a small town at the turn of the century, in 1901, and takes place over the course of about fourteen years. The story line is extremely simplistic, but allows the reader to focus on the deeper themes that author, Thorton Wilder, is able to display. The play has three acts that each represent daily life, love and marriage, and death. Living people are portrayed as ignorant to life's small significances. The way that this is presented is touching, and had a huge impact on the way that I look at life. This play taught me to have a unique appreciation for life and its offerings. As I mentioned, its ideas are universal and very sentimental.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2006

    Amazing

    I read this play in middle school, the same as many other people have done in the past. And the first time i read it my attitude was rather indifferent. I liked that it was short and I could read it in a night right before the exam. Years later, my friend was cast in the play and I figured i would go support him at least, even though I did not really feel like sitting through this story yet again. But, when I experienced the play again, I was moved to tears. It wasn't the best performance, but it spoke to me in a way the story never had before. This story is a timeless one and as we grow up and experience more of the ups and downs of life it becomes even more special. I have now read the play at least 10 times and my poor old paperback copy is completely worn out, but there are days when I still go back to reread even just one scene, to remind myself of the lessons in that story. I know most people see it as simple, but that is the beauty of it. It isn't something that needs to be analyzed, although it can be. It is plain, simply, beautiful truth put right in front of your eyes. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2006

    Life

    The book starts out with the BIRTH of day, then midlife-love, and then death. My favorite line from the book is- 'That's all people are just blind.' The minimal technique with props is essential to the plot. This book makes you think about life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2004

    Fantastic

    It is simply a masterpiece. I was able to direct a production of the show and choosing to do this show was one of the best decisions of my life. The topics in this show are ones everyone can find relevant to their daily lives. It's a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2003

    Awesome Play !!!

    I recentlly was a stage hand for this play at my high school. Even though I didn't cry during the third act, it was still very powerful. I'm glad I was a part of this play even though I wasn't acting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2003

    enlightening

    This play, like so many other fine works of literature, has gone generally underappreciated. Wilder's simplistic style helps to drive home the deeper meaning that so many of us overlook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2003

    Forever Saying Farewell

    Rilke wrote something like this: 'This is how we live our lives, as a man leaving his valley turns to survey all that he sees, so we live our lives, forever saying farewell.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2003

    Refreshing and Optimistic

    'Our Town' by Throton Wilder is a great book and play that takes time to look at the simpler things in life that people often overlook in their daily hectic lives. 'Our Town' offers a refeshing and optimistic outlook on life, something that is truly needed in a society that cares only for materialistic goods and ambitions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2003

    Our Town Revisited

    This book and the subsequent play and motion picture will probably carry more meaning with a mature audience than that of a young audience, especially in today's ultra-materialistic and hedonistic society. With a supreme nostalgic flair, it reflects on the lives of individuals in a very revealing way of human nature and while some may consider it 'unrealistic', I would have to say that it was extremely realistic for the time periods it covered. I found the book and the motion picture to be very emotionally moving and dramatically intense as it concerned the every day lives of decent, law-abiding human beings whose faith, sense of values, and reverence for life was revealed in many ways. It is unfortunate that many in today's society cannot see the tremendous value portrayed in this work. Thornton Wilder did a masterful job in this story of human endeavors.

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