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What does Thornton Wilder's Our Town have in common with ancient Greek drama and the...

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alepou | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted June 10, 2011 at 8:16 PM via web

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What does Thornton Wilder's Our Town have in common with ancient Greek drama and the Dionysiac cycle?

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shaketeach | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted June 27, 2011 at 2:24 AM (Answer #1)

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Although the Greek tragedies were based on legend and history and the stories were of kings and heroes and their fall, Wilder told the story of the common man.

That said, each act of Our Town conforms to the Greek rules of time, place and action.  Act one is a day in the life of the town.  The location is a single place (the town), it takes place in 24 hours and a single story is told.  Like a Greek play in a trilogy, it could stand alone.

Act two is the wedding and again we see a single story being told and it is told in one day and again one location.

Act three, the funeral, competes the "trilogy" and again conforms to the rules.

The Stage Manager acts as the chorus which in Greek theatre would explain, comment, interact, etc.

So, although Wilder does not tell a story of heroes and kings and their fall from power due to pride (hubris), he does conform to the structure used by the Greeks.

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