After Emily dies she decides to go back to the living to relive her 12 birthday, how does she feel when she returns to the world of the living?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is one of the most interesting episodes in the play because Emily is like a ghost revisiting her own home and cannot be seen by her mother or father, although she is visible to the audience. She expected her visit to be an enjoyable one, but she quickly becomes saddened and wants to be taken back to the cemetery. What troubles her, she says, is that the living can't understand how miraculous it is to be alive and to go through the ordinary experiences of daily life. There is more to it than this, more which Emily probably doesn't understand at the time but will understand later. Thornton Wilder is dramatizing his religious thesis that existence is a continuous progression toward enlightenment and a higher state of being. You can't go backward, only forward. Death is only a higher state on the way to immortality. All the dead people at the cemetery warned Emily not to go back in time, but she was still too attached to life to listen. She had to find out for herself.

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Our Town

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