Our Town

( 67 )

Overview

Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize?winning drama of life in the town of Grover 's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.

It is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new Foreword by Donald Margulies, who writes, "You are holding in your hands a great American play. Possibly the great American play."...

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Overview

Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize–winning drama of life in the town of Grover 's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.

It is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new Foreword by Donald Margulies, who writes, "You are holding in your hands a great American play. Possibly the great American play." In addition, Tappan Wilder has written an eye-opening new Afterword, which includes Thornton Wilder's unpublished notes and other illuminating photographs and documentary material.

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Editorial Reviews

Brooks Atkinson
Taking as his material three periods in the history of a placid New Hampshire twon, Mr. Wilder has transformed the simple events of human life into universal reverie. He has given familiar facts a deeply moving, philosophical perspective...Our Town is one of the finest achievements of the current stage.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060512637
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/4/2003
  • Series: Perennial Classics Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 61,258
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works, exploring the connection between the commonplace and cosmic dimensions of human experience, continue to be read and produced around the world. His novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of seven, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, as did two of his four full-length dramas: Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). Wilder's The Matchmaker was adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly!. He also enjoyed enormous success with many other forms of the written and spoken word, among them teaching, acting, the opera, and cinema. His screenplay for Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) remains a classic psycho-thriller to this day. Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee's Medal for Literature.

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Read an Excerpt

Act I

No curtain.

No scenery.

The audience, arriving, sees an empty stage in half-light.

Presently the Stage Manager, hat on and pipe in mouth, enters and begins placing a table and three chairs downstage left, and a table and three chairs downstage right.

He also places a low bench at the corner of what will be the Webb house, left.

"Left" and "right" are from the point of view of the actor facing the audience. "Up" is toward the back wall.

As the house lights go down be has finished setting the stage and leaning against the right proscenium pillar watches the late arrivals in the audience.

When the auditorium is in complete darkness he speaks:

Stage Manager:

This play is called "Our Town." It was written by Thornton Wilder; produced and directed by A. . . . (or: produced by A .... ; directed by B .... ). In it you will see Miss C .... ; Miss D .... ; Miss E .... ; and Mr. F .... ; Mr. G .... ; Mr. H .... ; and many others. The name of the town is Grover's Corners, New Hampshire-just across the Massachusetts line: latitude 42 degrees 40 minutes; longitude 70 degrees 37 minutes. The First Act shows a day in our town. The day is May 7, 190 1. The time is just before dawn.

A rooster crows.
The sky is beginning to show some streaks of light over in the East there, behind our mount'in.

The morning star always gets wonderful bright the minute before it has to go, -- doesn't it?

He stares at it for a moment, then goes upstage.

Well, I'd better show you how our town lies. Up here --

That is: parallel with theback wall.


is Main Street. Way back there is the railway station; tracks go that way. Polish Town's across, the tracks, and some Canuck families.

Toward the left.


Over there is the Congregational Church; across the street's the Presbyterian.

Methodist and Unitarian are over there.

Baptist is down in the holla' by the river.

Catholic Church is over beyond the tracks.

Here's the Town Hall and Post Office combined; jail's in the basement.

Bryan once made a speech from these very steps here.

Along here's a row of stores. Hitching posts and horse blocks in front of them. First automobile's going to come along in about five years -- belonged to Banker Cartwright, our richest citizen ... lives in the big white house up on the hill.

Here's the grocery store and here's Mr. Morgan's drugstore. Most everybody in town manages to look into those two stores once a day.

Public School's over yonder. High School's still farther over. Quarter of nine mornings, noontimes, and three o'clock afternoons, the hull town can hear the yelling and screaming from those schoolyards.

He approaches the table and chairs downstage right.


This is our doctor's house, -- Doc Gibbs'. This is the back door.

Two arched trellises, covered with vines and flowers, are pushed out, one by each proscenium pillar.


There's some scenery for those who think they have to have scenery.

This is Mrs. Gibbs' garden. Corn ... peas ... beans ... hollyhocks ... heliotrope ... and a lot of burdock.

Crosses the stage.


In those days our newspaper come out twice a week-the Grover's Corners Sentinel -- and this is Editor Webb's house.

And this is Mrs. Webb's garden.

Just like Mrs. Gibbs', only it's got a lot of sunflowers, too.

He looks upward, center stage.


Right here . . . 's a big butternut tree.

He returns to his place by the right proscenium pillar and looks at the audience for a minute.


Nice town, y'know what I mean?

Nobody very remarkable ever come out of it, s'far as we know.

The earliest tombstones in the cemetery up there on the mountain say 1670-1680 -- they're Grovers and Cartwrights and Gibbses and Herseys -- same names as are around here now.

Well, as I said: it's about dawn.

The only lights on in town are in a cottage over by the tracks where a Polish mother's just had twins. And in the Joe Crowell house, where Joe Junior's getting up so as to deliver the paper. And in the depot, where Shorty Hawkins is gettin' ready to flag the 5:45 for Boston.

A train whistle is heard. The Stage Manager takes out his watch and nods.
Naturally, out in the country -- all around -- there've been fights on for some time, what with milkin's and so on. But town people sleep late.

So -- another day's begun.

There's Doc Gibbs comin' down Main Street now, comin' back from that baby case. And here's his wife comin' downstairs to get breakfast.

Mrs. Gibbs, a plump, pleasant woman in the middle thirties, comes 'downstairs" right. She pulls up an imaginary window shade in her kitchen and starts to make a fire in her stove.


Doc Gibbs died in 1930. The new hospital's named after him.

Mrs. Gibbs died first-long time ago, in fact. She went out to visit her daughter, Rebecca, who married an insurance man in Canton, Ohio, and died there -- pneumonia -- but her body was brought back here. She's up in the cemetery there now-in with a whole mess of Gibbses and Herseys -- she was Julia Hersey 'fore she married Doc Gibbs in the Congregational Church over there.

In our town we like to know the facts about everybody.

There's Mrs. Webb, coming downstairs to get her breakfast, too.

-- That's Doc Gibbs. Got that call at half past one this morning.

And there comes Joe Crowell, Jr., delivering Mr. Webb's Sentinel.

Dr. Gibbs has been coming along Main Street from the left. At the point where be would turn to approach his house, be stops, sets down his -- imaginary -- black bag, takes off his bat, and rubs his face with fatigue, using an enormous handkerchief.

Mrs. Webb, a thin, serious, crisp woman, has entered her kitchen, left, tying on an apron. She goes through the motions of putting wood into a stove, lighting it, and preparing breakfast.



Our Town. Copyright © by Thornton Wilder. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Our Town
A Play in Three Acts

Act I

No curtain.

No scenery.

The audience, arriving, sees an empty stage in half-light.

Presently the Stage Manager, hat on and pipe in mouth, enters and begins placing a table and three chairs downstage left, and a table and three chairs downstage right.

He also places a low bench at the corner of what will be the Webb house, left.

"Left" and "right" are from the point of view of the actor facing the audience. "Up" is toward the back wall.

As the house lights go down be has finished setting the stage and leaning against the right proscenium pillar watches the late arrivals in the audience.

When the auditorium is in complete darkness he speaks:

Stage Manager:

This play is called "Our Town." It was written by Thornton Wilder; produced and directed by A. . . . (or: produced by A .... ; directed by B .... ). In it you will see Miss C .... ; Miss D .... ; Miss E .... ; and Mr. F .... ; Mr. G .... ; Mr. H .... ; and many others. The name of the town is Grover's Corners, New Hampshire-just across the Massachusetts line: latitude 42 degrees 40 minutes; longitude 70 degrees 37 minutes. The First Act shows a day in our town. The day is May 7, 190 1. The time is just before dawn.

A rooster crows.
The sky is beginning to show some streaks of light over in the East there, behind our mount'in.

The morning star always gets wonderful bright the minute before it has to go, -- doesn't it?

He stares at it for a moment, then goes upstage.

Well, I'd better show you how our town lies. Up here --

That is: parallel with the back wall.


is Main Street. Way back there is the railway station; tracks go that way. Polish Town's across, the tracks, and some Canuck families.

Toward the left.


Over there is the Congregational Church; across the street's the Presbyterian.

Methodist and Unitarian are over there.

Baptist is down in the holla' by the river.

Catholic Church is over beyond the tracks.

Here's the Town Hall and Post Office combined; jail's in the basement.

Bryan once made a speech from these very steps here.

Along here's a row of stores. Hitching posts and horse blocks in front of them. First automobile's going to come along in about five years -- belonged to Banker Cartwright, our richest citizen ... lives in the big white house up on the hill.

Here's the grocery store and here's Mr. Morgan's drugstore. Most everybody in town manages to look into those two stores once a day.

Public School's over yonder. High School's still farther over. Quarter of nine mornings, noontimes, and three o'clock afternoons, the hull town can hear the yelling and screaming from those schoolyards.

He approaches the table and chairs downstage right.


This is our doctor's house, -- Doc Gibbs'. This is the back door.

Two arched trellises, covered with vines and flowers, are pushed out, one by each proscenium pillar.


There's some scenery for those who think they have to have scenery.

This is Mrs. Gibbs' garden. Corn ... peas ... beans ... hollyhocks ... heliotrope ... and a lot of burdock.

Crosses the stage.


In those days our newspaper come out twice a week-the Grover's Corners Sentinel -- and this is Editor Webb's house.

And this is Mrs. Webb's garden.

Just like Mrs. Gibbs', only it's got a lot of sunflowers, too.

He looks upward, center stage.


Right here . . . 's a big butternut tree.

He returns to his place by the right proscenium pillar and looks at the audience for a minute.


Nice town, y'know what I mean?

Nobody very remarkable ever come out of it, s'far as we know.

The earliest tombstones in the cemetery up there on the mountain say 1670-1680 -- they're Grovers and Cartwrights and Gibbses and Herseys -- same names as are around here now.

Well, as I said: it's about dawn.

The only lights on in town are in a cottage over by the tracks where a Polish mother's just had twins. And in the Joe Crowell house, where Joe Junior's getting up so as to deliver the paper. And in the depot, where Shorty Hawkins is gettin' ready to flag the 5:45 for Boston.

A train whistle is heard. The Stage Manager takes out his watch and nods.
Naturally, out in the country -- all around -- there've been fights on for some time, what with milkin's and so on. But town people sleep late.

So -- another day's begun.

There's Doc Gibbs comin' down Main Street now, comin' back from that baby case. And here's his wife comin' downstairs to get breakfast.

Mrs. Gibbs, a plump, pleasant woman in the middle thirties, comes 'downstairs" right. She pulls up an imaginary window shade in her kitchen and starts to make a fire in her stove.


Doc Gibbs died in 1930. The new hospital's named after him.

Mrs. Gibbs died first-long time ago, in fact. She went out to visit her daughter, Rebecca, who married an insurance man in Canton, Ohio, and died there -- pneumonia -- but her body was brought back here. She's up in the cemetery there now-in with a whole mess of Gibbses and Herseys -- she was Julia Hersey 'fore she married Doc Gibbs in the Congregational Church over there.

In our town we like to know the facts about everybody.

There's Mrs. Webb, coming downstairs to get her breakfast, too.

-- That's Doc Gibbs. Got that call at half past one this morning.

And there comes Joe Crowell, Jr., delivering Mr. Webb's Sentinel.

Dr. Gibbs has been coming along Main Street from the left. At the point where be would turn to approach his house, be stops, sets down his -- imaginary -- black bag, takes off his bat, and rubs his face with fatigue, using an enormous handkerchief.

Mrs. Webb, a thin, serious, crisp woman, has entered her kitchen, left, tying on an apron. She goes through the motions of putting wood into a stove, lighting it, and preparing breakfast.



Our Town
A Play in Three Acts
. Copyright © by Thornton Wilder. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

It can be argued that the essence of Thornton Wilder's genius can be found in his greatest and most acclaimed work, the American classic Our Town (1938). Our Town chronicles the lives of the townspeople of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire during three time periods -- 1901, 1904, and 1913, respectively. We meet the omnipresent Stage Manager, who stoically narrates on a nearly bare stage the inevitable and yet unpredictable cycle of life, death, and all of the seemingly mundane things in-between. It is the simplicity of the play and the honesty of the prose that is so riveting and ultimately heartbreaking in its scope. Renowned theater critic Brooks Atkinson's words are just as accurate now as when he first wrote them in his New York Times review of February 5, 1938 on the Broadway premiere of Our Town. "Mr. Wilder has transmuted the simple events of human life into universal reveries. He has given familiar facts a deeply moving, philosophical perspective. . . . By stripping the play of everything that is not essential, Mr. Wilder has given it a profound, strange, otherworldly significance. . . . It is a hauntingly, beautiful play."

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the significance of the nearly unadorned stage in Our Town? How does the stage being devoid of extraneous decoration enhance the inner meaning of the play?

  2. "Nice town, y'know what I mean? Nobody very remarkable ever come out of it, s'far as we know" (p. 6) proclaims the Stage Manager rather bluntly about the inhabitants of the small town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire. Do you agree with the Stage Manager's opinion that no"remarkable" citizen lived in this town? Does the meaning of "remarkable" go beyond being a famous and noteworthy person?

  3. The Stage Manager asserts: "In Our Town we like to know the facts about everybody" (p. 7). This statement typifies the negative stereotype of small town residents knowing their neighbor's personal business. Which would you prefer -- living in a small town or a big city? How are people's personalities molded by the rural or urban environment in which they reside?

  4. Explain the role of the Stage Manager in Our Town. What does he represent and why is he an important figurehead within the framework of the play? How did you first react when he uttered the lines "Doc Gibbs died in 1930" (p. 7) and "Mrs. Gibbs died first -- long time ago, in fact" (p. 7). Does his prescient knowledge of people's lives and ultimate deaths unnerve you?

  5. How do you interpret the dialogue between Emily Webb and her mother about Emily's attractiveness? Why does Emily's mother not overly praise Emily about her good looks? "You're pretty enough for all normal purposes" (p. 32). Is she being callous by not being enthusiastic about her daughter's beauty?

  6. One of the most moving and thought-provoking excerpts in Our Town is when Rebecca Gibbs recounts to her brother George a letter that Jane Crofut received from her minister when she was ill. The minister addressed the envelope with grandiose flourish: "Jane Crofut; The Crofut Farm; Grover's Corners; Sutton County; New Hampshire; United States of America; Continent of North America; Western Hemisphere; the Earth; the Solar System; the Universe; the Mind of God" (p. 46). What do you think Thornton Wilder is proclaiming in this passage about man as an individual in the world?

  7. Explain the sentiment expressed in Our Town by Mrs. Gibbs that "people are meant to go through life two by two. It ain't natural to be lonesome" (p. 54). Do you agree with this rationale that people are meant to be paired off together and not live their lives alone? Is it this reasoning that has kept marriage alive in the 21st century? Do you believe that George and Emily sincerely wanted to wed, or was it simply expected of them as a defining rite of passage? Why didn't George and Emily's parents stop the wedding from proceeding, even though they clearly saw that their children where experiencing severe doubts up to the last possible minute about their impending nuptials? Were George and Emily's fears on their wedding day a foreshadowing of the tragedy that would come to them nine years later?

  8. The third and final act of Our Town is heartbreaking in its beauty and poignancy. The dead Emily's cries "It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another" (p. 108) and "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?" (p. 108). These perfectly summarize the ethereal brevity of life. What is Thornton Wilder saying about the cycle of life and the inevitability of death in Our Town? Do human beings ever truly understand that life is short and precious, or does that knowledge only come at old age, or not at all?

About the Author

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works explore the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for The Bridge of San Luis Rey, the second of his seven novels, and received the Pulitzer Prize in drama for Our Town in 1938, and The Skin of Our Teeth in 1943. Wilder's hit play The Matchmaker was adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly! His work is widely read and produced around the world to this day, and his screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) remains a classic psycho-thriller. Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 67 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(5)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 67 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    2 out of 2 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

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    JUST TALK HERE

    Yah

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2014

    Luke

    Walks in

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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.

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

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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.

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  • Posted February 27, 2010

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    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.

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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 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 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 February 4, 2006

    Did you not already know the lesson(s) given through this book?

    Our Town is a book about life. I recognize its acclaim and praise it for that. Maybe the book told something new to people in 1938 and thus deserved the Pulitzer. But I'm only fifteen, and I've heard the lessons about appreciating life and living it to the fullest countless times. Maybe the book was unique because it was a play. Who knows? I read it as a book and watched a movie of the play. I was not blown away. Moreover, the book is not enjoyable or complex. It's so basic and bland. The world it takes place in is like Pleasantville, except that movie was much better. I'm sorry if I'm giving you ungrounded criticism. Just read the book if you don't believe me. I gave it a three because it isn't a bad book. It has some unique dialogue and quotes that I love. But it isn't enjoyable.

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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 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.

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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 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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