Our Town


Thornton Wilder

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Themes and Colors
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Our Town, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Theater

One of the most striking features of Our Town is the way in which the play repeatedly breaks the so-called “fourth wall”, the imaginary division between the world of the stage and the audience that nearly all drama respects. This happens mostly through the character of the stage manager, but also through scenes in which characters like Professor Willard speak directly to the audience. The play also includes a scene in act one in…

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Our Town revolves around the community of the classic American small town of Grover’s Corners. The town is characterized by its small size, closeness, and familiarity. Everyone there knows each other (which is occasionally cause for town gossip) and goes to the same schools and churches. The town is filled with features of early twentieth century Americana, from the ice cream sodas George and Emily order at the local drugstore to the importance of baseball…

read analysis of Community

The Everyday and the Ordinary

In act one, Wilder chooses to tell the story of a perfectly ordinary day, when nothing particularly exciting or extraordinary happens. While acts two and three represent significant occasions (a wedding and a funeral), they are important events in the lives of ordinary people. The play could just have easily have been written about other inhabitants of Grover’s Corners, or about the people of some other small town. In act one, Dr. Gibbs asks the…

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Marriage and the Family

The town of Grover’s Corners is built on the smaller community of the family. The family unit is the building block of the town, where the same family names can be found on tombstones in the town cemetery going back many years. The first act of Our Town focuses mostly on two homes, those of the Gibbs and the Webbs, where the central family structure can be seen, with husband, wife, and children. Marriage is…

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Time, Change, and Continuity

The play’s three acts focus on three different moments in time: one day during Emily and George’s childhood, their wedding, and Emily’s funeral. In addition, there is a long flash-back in act two and Emily revisits a moment from her childhood in act three. Moreover, the stage manager repeatedly tells the audience information about characters’ futures, revealing the tragic death of Joe Crowell, for example, while he is still a young boy on-stage. By…

read analysis of Time, Change, and Continuity