Themes

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 443

Cycle of Life
Our Town begins at daybreak with the birth of twins in a Polish town and ends at night with the death of Emily Webb Gibbs in childbirth. As one life ends, another begins. Throughout the play, Wilder (through the Stage Manager—a role Wilder himself once played) directs the attention of the audience to the repetition of the cycle of life. In his opening monologue, he points out that the names on tombstones in the graveyard that date back to the 1600s are "the same names that are around here now." As Act Two opens, the Stage Manager talks about the sun having "come up over a thousand times," the growing up and the slowing down of some of the town's residents, and the millions of gallons of water [that have gone] by the mill.'' His comments about marriage are particularly interesting:

Illustration of PDF document

Download Our Town Study Guide

Subscribe Now

I've married over two hundred couples in my day Do I believe in it? I don't know. M ... marries N . . millions of them. The cottage, the g-cart, the Sunday-afternoon drives in the Ford, the first rheumatism, the grandchildren, the second rheumatism, the deathbed, the reading of the will,... Once in a thousand times it's interesting.

Meaning of Life
Thornton Wilder is often considered to be a religious writer and Our Town is often considered to be a religious play. Yet, there is little mention of heaven or God or any of those subjects often thought of as being religious. The Stage Manager muses aloud about the word eternal at the beginning of Act Three.

Now there are some things we all know, but we don't take'm out and look at'ra very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain't houses and...

(The entire section contains 443 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Our Town study guide. You'll get access to all of the Our Town content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Analysis
  • Critical Essays
  • Teaching Guide
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Previous

Summary

Next

Characters

Explore Study Guides