The playwright Our Town features a wide range of philosophizing that one would not usually expect from such a traditional and classic play. The play’s author, Thornton Wilder, does an exceptional job characterizing his characters, with many seeming completely normal yet others clearly extraordinarily wise. The two main characters, characters George and Emily are both consistent sources of wisdom and clarity throughout the play. Throughout the play, George’s parts resonated with me the most, and he ended up being what I regarded as by far, the most relatable character.
George is always collected, he knows what he wants and he knows what he has to do, even when other people around him may not. George helps to convey the overall message which is supported by the play. In a story that deals with love, marriage, and human mortality, George was a reminder. He did what he wanted in live, and at the end of the day he ended up happy. He is a reminder to appreciate every moment; because as the play shows, we never get a second chance. The true side of George really comes out in act two, when he professes his love for Emily.
George has taken control of his own life, and decided that he is perfectly content living with Emily for the rest of his life. He rejects the pressure to go to college, saying “and, like you say, being gone all that time… in other places and meeting other people… Gosh, if anything like that can happen I don’t want to go away. I guess new people aren’t any better than old ones. I’ll bet they almost never are. Emily… I feel that you’re as good a friend as I’ve got. I don’t need to go and meet the people in other towns” (Wilder 47).
George was able to accept that he would be perfectly content settling down and living the rest of his life. To be able to make that decision at such a young age shows incredible wisdom. George doesn’t take what he has for granted, he knows he has something good and he wants to keep it. I wish I could be more like George in some aspects of my life. I often feel that I am not grateful enough of the good things in my life. I don’t take the time to appreciate what people do for me and how easy I have it. George takes care of the people around him, especially Emily.
George truly cares about Emily, and shows her immense love, care, and respect. He is so happy with his life, that for a moment he seems to fear change. Right before his wedding he confides in his mother, saying “Ma, I don’t want to grow old. Why’s everybody pushing me so? ” (57). He is able to find pleasure in his simple life, so much so that he fears change. The true theme of Our Town is revealed in the final act, when Emily is eventually able to look back at her life from beyond the grave. Upon reflection, Emily appears to achieve a greater wisdom than nearly any of the living.
A wisdom that according to the stage manager is only possessed by “saints and poets maybe”. She realizes how special every moment of life is, and she is shocked at how people just let their life fly by. All too often people take things for granted, they become complacent in their everyday life. Emily is struck by the tragedy that she only truly appreciated what she had after it was gone. She sees every second of her life as extraordinarily precious, even a seemingly irrelevant moment. She realizes that the living are so busy with the small things in life that they don’t take the time to appreciate the important things.
Looking back, Emily wants nothing but to talk to her mother. In writing this play, Wilder clearly means to criticize the way many people life their lives. He implies that people need to take more time to appreciate the little things. Personally, I believe that Wilder makes an excellent point. However I do not believe that his message applies to everybody. Some people life their lives fixated on the little things, but this is not always a good thing. Many of the visionaries, explorers, and legends in human history were the ones who looked to the future, with little regard for the present r past.
Wilder’s suggested way of life may be best for the sentimental and those who are content with a slow life, but not everybody is like George and Emily. The philosophizing of the stage manager sounds very romantic and fitting, however at the end of the day much of it only applies to a certain type of person. While Emily looks back at her life and wishes that she appreciated her family more, others may look back with entirely different realizations. Regardless as to whether or not somebody is a saint or a poet, everybody has different aspirations.
Dying clearly does not immediately grant some sort of universal superior knowledge. This is evident in Simon Stimson, an alcoholic in life who clearly took his bitter grievances beyond the grave. He goes as far as to claim that all life is full of “ignorance and blindness” (101). Each person is bound to look back at their life through a unique subjective prospective. To generalize everybody’s regrets into one message is impossible. I personally find George to be an inspiring and impressive character, with wisdom and courage unlike any person I have ever personally met.
To many people he could be seen as an example, however his way of life is in no way universally applicable. George knew what he had to do to make himself happy, and in the end he seemed happy. In the third act Emily seems to be full of regrets and sadness, due to faults that she attributes to all of mankind. It is safe to say that Emily was not happy with how she lived her live. I believe that George would not have reacted the same way. George would have been content with his life, knowing that he lived it exactly how he wanted.