Thornton Wilder's Our Town

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A Greek philosopher born in Chalkidiki, Greece 384 B.C., introduced the theory that would change Greek tragedies forever. His name was Aristotle, and he believed that the perfect Greek tragedy had three unities. Although the play, “Our Town,” by Thornton Wilder is not a Greek tragedy, it still adheres to these rules of drama. The majority of modern dramas no longer view these principles as a guideline for writing. Nonetheless, throughout Thornton Wilder’s, “Our Town,” the unities of action, place, and time can be observed. A play should be written so that it follows one main action, with few or no subplots. This is the first Aristotelian unity of action. In the play, “Our Town,” the only plot presented to the reader is the progression…show more content…
This is the third Aristotelian unity. “Our Town,” is a relatively short play that could be easily performed in a single day. Though this is the rule that Aristotle referred to in his writing, there is an additional connection to be made between the passage of time and life. The structure of the play, “Our Town,” is similar to the riddle told by the sphinx in, “Oedipus Rex.” The sphinx asks young Oedipus, “What has four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening?” The answer is a human because in the early stages of life a human crawls on all fours, then they walk on two legs, and then they walk with a cane. Act I of, “Our Town,” relates to birth and daily life, act II is marriage and love, and act III is death and afterlife. Though 80 years may seem like a long time to live for many people, it is merely the passing of a day when compared to eternity. Emily observes the small gathering at her funeral and admits that she feels “ ‘as though I knew them last a thousand years ago.’ ” (96). After her death, Emily has lost all she has ever known and time seems to slow even though it feels as if countless years have gone by. When Emily revisits her past, she decides that she can not stay, because life, “ ‘goes so fast.’ ” (108). Humans never, “ ‘realize life while they live it,’ ” (108) which is why it seems to elapse in a day, from the early morning rays, to the last hint of light on the

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