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Our Town by Thorton Wilder. I. Introduction A.Ideas about Content 1. eternal human truths are found in literature (Wilder knew and discussed with Gertrude.

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Presentation on theme: "Our Town by Thorton Wilder. I. Introduction A.Ideas about Content 1. eternal human truths are found in literature (Wilder knew and discussed with Gertrude."— Presentation transcript:

1 Our Town by Thorton Wilder

2 I. Introduction A.Ideas about Content 1. eternal human truths are found in literature (Wilder knew and discussed with Gertrude Stein) 2. Stein’s distinction between a. Human nature— clings to the self, identity, time and place, survival b. Human mind—contemplates pure existence and pure creativity; detached

3 I. Introduction: A. Ideas on Content 3.Geographical situations a. valley born and hill bounded=human nature, bounded, parochial b. flatlands, seas, plains=power of abstraction =human mind

4 I. Introduction—A. Ideas 4.Bastion’s Theory a. Folk ideas b. Elementary ideas 5. Relation between the universal and the mundane

5 I. Introduction A. Ideas 6.The Idea of America a. The New Eden b. Detached from history c. Microcosm of the world

6 I. Introduction—A. Ideas 7.Wilder’s ideas about theatre—four fundamental conditions of the drama: a. Collaboration—of artists -of artists with audience -of a community b. Addressed to the group mind

7 7.Wilder’s ideas about theatre (con’t from Introduction) c. Based on a series of pretenses (“the willing suspension of disbelief) d. the action takes place in a perpetual present

8 II. Our Town—The Play A.Introduction—Wilder’s purpose 1. In Oedipus Apollo’s will is the real subject

9 Our Town--Introduction 2. Our Town tries to recover for modern audiences that connection with something much bigger with which the Greek drama strove to connect (two points) a. b.

10 B. Structure of the Play 1. The Three Acts a. Act 1: A Day in the Town (May 7, 1901)—Daily Life (birth occurs) b. Act 2: Love and Marriage (July 7, 1904) (a wedding occurs) c. Act 3: Death (summer 1913) (a birth and a death occur)

11 C. Setting 1.Literal —Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire on specific days between 1901 and 1913

12 C. Setting (continued) 2.However: a. Grover’s Corners is a microcosm To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. b. the setting is really “the All, the Everywhere, and the Always”

13 C. Setting (continued) 3. The Stage Manager’s use of all verb tenses—the time frame is eternity 4. The lack of props and realism the subject of the drama is the spiritual no “physical reality” -- the reality is transcendent (lack of props makes the physical world transparent) ''Our claim, our hope, our despair are in the mind -not in things, not in 'scenery.' '‘ – T. Wilder

14 D. Characters 1.The Families Webbs Gibbs the two families give a structure or a center to the townspeople 2.The main character of the play is human life

15 D. Characters (continued) 3. The Stage Manager a. Greek chorus b. Cosmic consciousness

16 E. Main Themes 1. The Importance of Love 2. Continuity of Life Spinoza’s Ideas The idea of the light vs the lights

17 E. Main Themes (continued) 3. The Beauty of Life— that which is ordinary to the unenlightened eye glows as life’s true treasure to the enlightened eye (e.g. the saints and the poets)

18 E. Main Themes (continued) 4. The Meaning of Life a. “something is eternal” b. Relation of consciousness and appreciation to life’s meaning

19 E. Main Themes (continued) c. Nature is working away on this planet trying to do something

20 E. Main Themes (continued) 5. The Universal and the particular a. Rebecca’s envelope address\ b. To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. Wm. Blake

21 III. Conclusion What makes Our Town great?


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