Death as a Theme Our Town

Death as a Theme Our Town

Length: 1144 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
In the play Our Town, the people of Grover’s Corners mask their worries and thoughts about death in their quest for happiness. In the first act, a few deaths occur, and the attitude of the people towards these deaths is a negligent one of briefly acknowledging death and moving on. Also, the children in act two who are faced with adulthood are reluctant to accept the burden, through their hesitance to grow up and approach death. In the third act, when we finally get a clear picture of death, the reader sees that the people who are dead are regretful that their mundane lives were incomplete, not realizing the importance of life until they are dead. This method of living proves unfulfilling, as the dead arduously mourn their trivial lives yearning to have made a difference.

The stage manager directs the flow of the play throughout, and his transient attitude towards death reflects Grover’s Corners overall outlook on a life that tries to mentally avoid death. This stance is established primarily by the stage manager in his first act narrative, which hastily describes the fatalities, masking their importance and reality. “Want to tell you something about that boy Joe Crowell there. Joe was awful bright – graduated from high school here, head of his class. So he got a scholarship to Massachusetts Tech. Graduated head of his class there, too. It was all wrote up in the Boston paper at the time. Goin’ to be a great engineer, Joe was. But the war broke out and he died in France.” This brief account demonstrates the importance placed on a man’s death.

The people of Grover’s Corners live in a world where change is frowned upon; consequently, the means of dealing with such a great adjustment as death is to prevent themselves from thinking of it. In the stagnant society of Grover’s corners, death is the ultimate obstacle, and ignorance is the remedy. Another instance where the stage manager subtly demonstrates this practice of evading notions of death is his intervention in scenes that broach the topic. “Only it seems to me that once in your life before you die you ought to see a country where they don’t talk in English and don’t even want to.” The stage manager enters briskly from the right. He tips his hat to the ladies (P.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Death as a Theme Our Town." 17 Feb 2020

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Free College Essays - Our Town by Thornton Wilder

- Our Town by Thornton Wilder The Stage Manager is a man of many roles. Usually a stage manager is part of the non-acting staff and in complete charge of the bodily aspects of the production. In Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the Stage Manager goes well beyond his usual function in a play and undertakes a large role as a performer. In Our Town the Stage Manager is a narrator, moderator, philosopher, and an actor. Through these roles the Stage Manager is able to communicate the theme of universality in the play....   [tags: Wilder Our Town Essays]

Free Essays
1301 words (3.7 pages)

Common Survival and Death Theme in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and Chris Abani´s The Lottery

- We can transform our life by altering our thinking process, and the stories by Shirley Jackson and Chris Abani emphasize on changing the thought. Shirley Jackson’s story, “The Lottery”, conveys a great ironic tradition of a certain American community at some time in history, probably not that old. Similarly, “The Lottery” by Chris Abani also explores a similar tragic story about a loss of a life, and presents the life and survival as a lottery, which is never certain. In these regards, both these stories express a common theme of a traditional belief and a tragic end of a life but in a very contrasting fashion and settings....   [tags: Death, Tradition, Mob]

Research Papers
626 words (1.8 pages)

The Death Of A Salesman Essay

- The Death of a Salesman Have you ever worked long and hard on a project, only to realize that it was effort wasted and the project was totally meaningless in the end. That is just what occurred in the play The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Willy Loman, the protagonist, spent decades in mind numbing work, only to discover that he had “built his life on shifting sand” (Nicholas). Through the course of his journey, Willy kept on the straight and narrow highway, which he thought would bring success and happiness....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller, Lee J. Cobb]

Research Papers
1138 words (3.3 pages)

People Do Not Appreciate the Little Things in Life in Our Town by Thornton Wilder

- The theme of Our Town is that people do not truly appreciate the little things in daily life. This theme is displayed throughout the entire play. It starts in the beginning with everybody just going through their daily life, occasionally just brushing stuff off or entirely not doing or appreciating most things. But as you progress through the story you begin to notice and squander on the thought that the people in the play do not care enough about what is truly important. By the end of this play you realize that almost everybody does not care enough for the little things as they should, instead they only worry about the future, incessantly worrying about things to come....   [tags: worry, death, superstition]

Research Papers
587 words (1.7 pages)

Essay about Death in A Rose for Emily, Our Town, and I'm Not Rappaport

- Death in A Rose for Emily, Our Town, and I'm Not Rappaport "Animals learn death first at the moment of death; man approaches death with the knowledge it is closer every hour…" -Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea Death is a theme that is inevitable to come across in day to day life. From the moment we are all born, we are dying. It is an idea that is common amongst all living creatures and because of its widespread cohesion many authors use it as a tool in their writings....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
976 words (2.8 pages)

Essay about One Death, Different Perspectives.

- There is probably no one, among people, who has not considered death as a subject to think about or the events, people, and spirits that they would face after death. Also, since we were little kids we were asking our parents what death is and what is going to happen after we die. People have always linked death with fear, darkness, depression, and other negative feelings but not with Emily Dickinson, who was a reclusive poet from Massachusetts who was obsessed with death and dying in her tons of writings....   [tags: emily dickinson, death, dying]

Research Papers
1042 words (3 pages)

Essay Our Town

- Wilder's passionate plea in the play is to appreciate every moment of every day, for life is a fleeting thing. With troubles rapidly expanding in Europe and war becoming a looming reality, people were inundated with the negative aspects of life. To see Our Town was to escape from the negative and rejoice in the ordinary; it reaffirmed faith in the unchanging moral values of small town living. It was obviously the balm that audiences needed in the midst of a pessimistic and changing world. Through his play, Wilder tries to teach the audience to seize the moment and enjoy living....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
469 words (1.3 pages)

Our Town Essay

- Our Town "Our Town", by Thornton Wilder, written in 1938, was first performed at the McCarter theatre, New Jersey, on the 22nd of January1938. It is an example of meta theatre, and chronicles the lives of ordinary, everyday people, during their ordinary, everyday lives. The story is based in Grover’s Corners, a small town in New Hampshire, set at the turn of the century. The play involves three main acts, each focussed upon a different aspect of life. Set in 1901, the first act simply discusses the passing of an uneventful day in the town....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
967 words (2.8 pages)

Essay about Theme of Death in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

- Theme of Death in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" is a tragic tale of a Southern aristocrat, Miss Emily Grierson, who is the subject of a town's obsession.  The narrator, a member of the town, tells the story of what transpires in a decaying old Southern house that is always under the watchful eye of the townspeople.  They witness Miss Emily's life, her father's death, her turn to insanity and the death of both her and her lover.  The theme of death runs throughout this tale, which is understandable considering the events that take place in the story....   [tags: A Rose for Emily, William Faulkner]

Research Papers
1063 words (3 pages)

Essay about Common Theme

- Literary works have life changing messages hidden within their pages that have the power to teach a lesson. During the second half of the school year, we studied a myriad of novels and plays, however, despite their differences in plot and characters- the works had an overall theme in common. Each work discovers and characterizes the global theme of hope differently. In The Lottery, the characters disagree with a deadly ritual but follow it because they are afraid and will be chastised. At first there is some resistance from the family who gets the black ticket but in the end there is no confrontation....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
749 words (2.1 pages)

21) The stage manager again in his embodiment of the town must intervene on this discussion and he proceeds to change the subject. This represents once more the town’s hesitance to talk about things upsetting the daily routine of Grover’s Corners, one of these being death. What if the rooster didn’t crow in the morning? Or the train for Boston never came? Or someone went to Paris? Death is the one thing the citizens of Grover’s Corners cannot rely on, and that mystery is what makes death the ultimate barrier for them.

In their reluctance to face adulthood, the young adults of Grover’s Corners struggle to cope with the burden of adulthood that alters everything. George Gibbs does not want to grow up, because it is the next step down the road that he does not want to see the end of. “Listen, Ma, for the last time I ask you… All I want to do is to be a fella.” (P.78) George wants to stay a teenager, and not go through these transformations because of what they represent in the long run. Even though he must move on, George attempts to hang on to the rituals that he once enjoyed. “Now, Ma, you save Thursday nights. Emily and I are over to dinner every Thursday night…you’ll see.” Also, Emily shares the same plight with clinging on to the childhood she has come to know and love. “Don’t you remember that you used to say, - all the time you used to say – all the time: that I was your girl! There must be lots of places we can go to. I’ll work for you. I could keep the house.” Emily wants to stay a child for the same reasons that George wants to be a fella again; she doesn’t want to face the realities of life’s alterations. She ends up trying to control something she cannot, just as the people of the Grover’s Corners try to beat death by ignoring it. This simple life is an unfulfilling one, and by focusing of the evasion of death, life flies by the citizens of Grover’s Corners. The regretful dead of Grover’s Corners express their sorrow in the final act and reflect on the importance of life and taking advantage of what the world has to offer. The graveyard folk discuss the importance of not worrying, and living life for what it’s worth, without the apprehensions. “Look! Father Gibbs is bringing some of my flowers to you. He looks just like George, doesn’t he? Oh, Mother Gibbs, I never realized before how troubled and how…how in the dark live persons are. Look at him. I loved him so. From morning till night, that’s all they are – troubled.” The living never grasp the value of life, because they agonize too much over its ups and downs. Life is a roller coaster that these people constantly try to flatten out, and get rid of the ups and downs, such as death. But absence makes the dead grow fond of life, wishing they had taken those opportunities of going to Paris, instead of achieving bliss through ignorance of the vices of life. “Now you know! That’s what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those…of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years.” (P.109) By not thinking of death, the citizens of Grover’s Corners have their lives rush by them, and their happiness achieved by negligence of death is a brief, uneventful happiness. Now the dead realize the importance of savoring life because they have come to understand death, instead of ignoring it. In Grover’s Corners, evading notions of death begets a false sense of happiness that leads to a very mundane enjoyment of life. These unfulfilled people have not found happiness; they have found escape from the apprehensions of death. Pascal’s statement is a misleading one. People must stop to smell the roses every once in a while, or life can fly by them. The real key to happiness is realizing what short time you have and grasping on to it, which means taking chances. Happiness also includes accomplishing something with your life, and leaving a legacy for others. In Grover’s Corners, the citizens’ bliss comes from ignorance, but towards the end of the play the reader sees that awareness is the real key to happiness.
Return to