The Skin of Our Teeth Themes

Themes

Absurdity
Much of the humor in The Skin of Our Teeth derives from Wilder's use of bizarre juxtapositions which place the characters in absurd situations and highlight the ludicrous aspects of seemingly ordinary events. Combining elements of twentieth-century suburban America with events from the historical and mythological past creates an odd world where a middle-class family can have a dinosaur and mammoth for pets, the Antrobuses can celebrate their 5,000th wedding anniversary, and the children can recite poems even though their father has only just invented the alphabet.

American Exceptionalism
By presenting his allegorical parents of the human race as a conventional American middle-class couple, Wilder reinforces Americans' belief in the exceptional nature of their country and its citizens. Mr. Antrobus's virtues of inventiveness, resilience, and diligence are those of the ideal American entrepreneur, and the family's continued ability to start from nothing and achieve greatness is the essence of the American dream. The play suggests the best human characteristics are also the best American qualities.

Illusion vs. Reality
While traditional realistic plays try to create a "real" world on the stage, encouraging viewers to forget that they are watching actors play roles in a fictional drama, Wilder constantly interrupts this sort of theatrical illusion to remind the audience that they are watching a drama. When actors step out of their roles and speak directly to the audience, they...

(The entire section is 635 words.)