An Analysis of Our Town

Topics: Our Town, Thornton Wilder, Personal life Pages: 10 (3618 words) Published: January 6, 2011
It's the little things in life that count
An analysis of the representation of the daily life in Our Town

* Table of Contents

2Biographical Background4
3Our Town5
4.1Act 16
4.2Act 27
4.3Act 38
6.1Primary Literature12
6.2Secondary Literature12


Needless to say, Our Town is one of the most popular plays by Thornton Wilder and not for nothing has it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938. The most significant aspect in Our Town is the representation of the everyday life. Not only does the play explores American values of religion or family, it also addresses themes like mortality or as mentioned before, the value of the everyday life. “Our Town is not offered as a picture of life in a New Hampshire village; or as a speculation about the conditions of life after death. It is an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life.” [Online 1] Life is often taken for granted although we are aware of the fact that life is short and that it can end at any time. Many people do not take heed of their life and they do not pay attention to all those little things which make life important. “That’s all human beings are! Just blind people.” (Wilder 1984: 93). Like Emily, a character of Our Town, mentioned, people are not aware of how precious life is. Therefore the main aim of this paper is to give an analysis of how Thornton Wilder tries to teach the audience through several messages implied in Our Town. At first, the term paper will tell about Thornton Wilder’s life, because it is important to know about his personal life when taking his works into consideration. Wilder never stopped writing, even when he worked as a professor. Here we can clearly see a connection to his works, because especially in Our Town, as mentioned before, he tries to teach the reader or audience by pointing out how precious all the small things in life are and that the people should become aware of all those things. That means that he is not only teaching students on the university, but also the audience through his works. Secondly, this term paper will give some important facts about Our Town, which are necessary to understand the background and Wilders implied messages. Then there will be an analysis on each act of the play based on the main theme, namely that it’s the little things in life that count. These analysis will mainly concentrate on the most significant aspects and parts of the play that carry Wilders implied lessons and messages. At the end of the term paper there will be a short conclusion including an own interpretation and opinion of Our Town.

Biographical Background

Thornton Niven Wilder was born on April 17 in 1897 in Madison, Wisconsin. He was an American novelist and playwright. He wrote several stories, for example, he was asked to write the screenplay for the film “Shadow of a Doubt” by Alfred Hitchcock. [see Online 2] This was a major honour for Thornton Wilder, because during his lifetime, he was fascinated by Alfred Hitchcock. Thornton Wilder, amongst other things, also wrote the book “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” in 1927, one of his famous books, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928. [see Online 3] Literature played an important role in Thornton Wilders multi-talented family. Although his father, Amos Parker Wilder, an US diplomat and his mother, Isabella Niven, were not that much into literature, some of Wilders siblings were famous poets or writers. You might say that Thornton Wilder were born with his literary talent. He early discovered his fascination for literature and therefore he began writing plays during his education at the Thacher School in California. His family moved to China in 1910, where his father had to work, and therefore Thornton Wilder had to attend the China Inland...

Bibliography: Primary Literature
Wilder, Thornton (1984)
Secondary Literature
Beckmann, Heinz (1966)
Carnegie, Dale (1990). How to Stop Worrying and Start Living [1936]. New York: Simon and
Schuster Adult Publishing Group.
Harrison, Gilbert A. (1983). A Life of Thornton Wilder. New Haven: Ticknor & Fields.
Nünning, Ansgar and Vera (2004). An Introduction to the Study of English and
American Literature
Wilder, Thornton (1979). In: Donald Gallup, ed. American Characteristics: And Other
2.) “Thornton (Niven) Wilder (1897-1975)”. [Online]. [2009, January 30].
3.) “Biography of Thornton Wilder (1897-1975)”
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