Our Town, by Thornton Wilder is a play that takes place in a small fictional town of Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire; beginning in 1901 and ending in 1913. The play takes the audience through the cycles of life, with the purpose of getting a universal message stating that life shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Emily Webb, one of the most important characters in the play, is Wilder’s character in which he uses to show the audience a universal message that anyone would understand and relate to. Emily is a character that is normal enough so that the audience could relate to her; and yet be different in little ways that makes people love and adore her. For example, Emily went through the most common events in a woman’s life: marriage, childbirth, and death in the play.
These cycles makes her common, thus relatable to the audience. Without going through common events in life, the character would seem distant and likeable to the audience. Similarly, when Emily said that she expects a man to be perfect, it makes her special. Wilder put in that scene because he believed that even though there is a basic image of an average person, to be truly average, the character must have a difference to separate the character from the crowd.
If the character doesn’t have any differences, then the character would be faceless; impossible for the character to take a major role in the play. Emily is portrayed uniquely in her own way, and yet is still within the boundaries of everyone else. The character Emily plays a crucial scene in the play, the part where Emily went back to her twelfth birthday. At first, Emily wanted to go back and relive the happiest day of her life, but Mrs. Gibbs stopped her and told her to visit a normal day instead.
Mrs. Gibbs knew what would happen to Emily if she had relived a joyful day in her life. If Emily had gone back for a special occasion, she would’ve been overwhelmed by all the beauty that she didn’t pay attention to. Therefore, Emily went to relive her twelfth birthday, but wasn’t as happy as she thought she would have been. Emily couldn’t understand why her own mother wouldn’t even spare the time to look at her on her birthday. She then concluded that the living is ignorant and doesn’t appreciate the small things that are in their lives every day.
The character Emily is perfect just the way she is. If Wilder changed Emily, the universal message might not be as effective as it is now. Meaning that the audience wouldn’t like the idea given by a character that is unlike them.
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