Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Release Date: 1938
“First published in 1938, this Pulitzer Prize winning play envisions the enduring truths of human existence. The three act play takes place in the village of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire.”
What a work of art this play is!
People have been telling me to read this play for years- librarians, teachers, friends, practically the world. And, in proper Holly fashion, I have for some unknown reason put it off for the longest time. Perhaps it was all the hype that had me hesitant, because I didn’t want to end up not liking it as much as everyone promised me I undoubtedly would. Or maybe I was just waiting to be in the right mood, the proper frame of mind. Whatever the reason was, I am now proud to say that my predicament no longer exists. I have read this play, and my goodness did I enjoy it!
The gorgeous simplicity of Our Town is one of its most impressive characteristics; its ability to somehow convey such a profound message in a short three-act play. There’s something strikingly beautiful about the quaint lives that the people of Grover’s Corners live. Children grow up and get jobs but always seem to return, because why wouldn’t you want to live such a lovely life there? Yes, it’s based on a town in the year 1901, so one would expect it to be much quieter than life here today. However, the essence of their lifestyles could still be achieved in our modern society, yet few choose to pursue it. The value of this way of living is apparent to me after reading this play, as I’m sure it has been to its millions of readers in the past.
As someone who lives in New Hampshire, I could really connect to the town and its surroundings. The town I live in is small and reminds me a lot of Grover’s Corners, although the fictional town is undoubtedly much tinier and quaint. Quaint. I keep using that word in this review because it was the first word that popped into my mind when thinking of how to describe this story’s setting. According to Dictionary.com, something that is “quaint” has an “old-fashioned attractiveness or charm”. If you’ve read Our Town, then that probably rings a bell in relation to Grover’s Corners! It’s the perfect word for it in my mind.
The narration of the Stage Manager throughout the story as well as the passing of time that takes place truly highlights its unique character and charm. We see Emily and George grow up from school children into adults and then watch as a terrible tragedy unfolds. But life in Grover’s Corners ultimately goes on, just as it always has and always will. It’s a startling but important reminder that life can change drastically at any moment. We should appreciate the life we have while we’re living it and make the most of each and every day, so Thornton Wilder emphasizes in this wonderful little play.
Also, I should mention that I have never seen this play performed. I think it would change my perception of the story a little bit, depending on the way it was interpreted by the performers as well as the mood they focused on. I definitely want to see it live in the future!
Although I enjoyed reading Our Town immensely, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disconnected from some of the experiences that the characters go through. It’s difficult for me to truly relate to getting married, growing old, and losing loved ones because I have not experienced these things before. I think this is one of those stories that I’ll have to return to again and again in the future in order to fully appreciate and understand. I actually really like the idea of a story that changes meaning for the reader with each new experience in his or her own life. I suppose that applies to most stories, but I believe it fits this one particularly well.
Overall, Our Town is a play that will stick with me for years to come. This simple story holds so much truth and honesty and raw emotion that it takes quite a while for everything to really sink in after reading it. Readers of all ages can connect to it at some level, and that degree of understanding will only grow and deepen with age. It’s a play that speaks to the heart of what it means to be alive and human and living, and isn’t that what we’re all looking for in literature?
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys. I loved it, but I didn’t feel as connected to it as I would have liked. I’ll read it again in the future and see if my feelings have changed!
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes!!
Have you read this play or seen it performed before? What did you think of it? Are there any other works of Thornton Wilder’s that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!
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