The play begins with Emily as a young girl in school and ends several years later with her dying in childbirth and entering eternity. Explain two or three lessons Emily learns about life over the...
The play begins with Emily as a young girl in school and ends several years later with her dying in childbirth and entering eternity. Explain two or three lessons Emily learns about life over the course of the play. Cite textual evidence.
Emily learns the most valuable lessons about life after her life is over. In the third act of the play, Emily interacts with other dead from her town, as she watches her family mourn her at her funeral. The other, more experienced dead try to advise her to let go of her earthly life but she is not ready yet. Emily wants to visit a moment in her life to interact with her family one last time; the other dead warn her against this, but she does it anyway. She goes back to a somewhat ordinary birthday from her childhood. Emily is overwhelmed with emotion and comes to the realization that people never truly appreciate the moments of their lives while they are living them. Emily famously exclaims, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?" The Stage Manager replies, "No." This lesson seems to be a harsh one because it appears that people can do nothing to change this while alive; they can only learn this after death.
When visiting her past life, Emily also concludes that life "goes so fast" and urges her family members to "look at one another." She sees now that people don't really appreciate each other when they see each other each day. They take each other for granted. But once you lose a family member, you finally understand how much you mean to one another. These lessons come too late, of course. Wilder, though, presents the lessons Emily learns as part of the life cycle, and as lessons that can only be learned after one's life has ended.
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