Under Milk Wood


Dylan Thomas

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Themes and Colors
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Under Milk Wood, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


Llareggub, the quaint Welsh fishing village where Under Milk Wood takes place, is steeped in nostalgia. This is true of many of the play’s characters, who are filled with nostalgia for their own pasts. Captain Cat, the blind, elderly sea captain, dreams of former shipmates who perished at sea and of his deceased former lover. Polly Garter cannot shake her memories of the man she was in love with who died many years ago…

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Storytelling and Ordinary Life

Under Milk Wood lacks the features of a typical plot: there is no central conflict, no rising action, no climax, and no resolution to provide the play with a sense of meaning and purpose. And, notably, nothing happens that’s out of the ordinary: Under Milk Wood simply offers a slice-of-life representation of the mundane experience of a typical day in Llareggub, in which characters have dreams, write letters, go to the bar, or cook for…

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While many of the relationships between the play’s characters are intimate or romantic, Under Milk Wood does not depict idealized love. Instead, it finds delight and poignancy in flawed or thwarted love: cheating spouses, unfulfilling encounters, unrequited feelings, or even emotionless sex. One example of the play finding tenderness in flawed love is the marriage of Cherry Owen, a notorious drunk, and his wife, Mrs. Cherry Owen, who takes care of him. While…

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Resilience and Redemption 

The sleepy fishing village of Llareggub isn’t a particularly happening town: it’s inhabited by fewer than 500 people and consists of little more than three streets and some surrounding farmland. By the admission of the Voice of a Guide-Book that provides background information about the town at the start of the play, Llareggub is a “decaying watering place” lacking in excitement and cultural relevance. Yet the Voice of a Guide-Book contends that a “contemplative” person…

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Nature vs. Society 

Under Milk Wood takes place within the town of Llareggub and in the water or woods that surround it. As the action of the play unfolds, it becomes clear that there is a difference between the types of behaviors that occur within the town of Llareggub and those that unfold beyond the town’s confines: in the surrounding sea, in the residents’ dreams, or in the milk wood trees that grow on Llareggub Hill. While characters…

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Gossip and Community

In a small town like Llareggub, news travels fast, and everyone knows everyone else’s business. Women flock to Mrs. Organ Morgan’s general store or the town pump to trade bits of gossip. Before heading to work, Llareggub’s postman, Willy Nilly, and his wife, Mrs. Willy Nilly, steam open and read all the townspeople’s mail, and Willy Nilly passes along the information he gleans from their snooping to people he encounters on the…

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