Our Town

Hymns and Music as Markers in Time and Part of Rituals

In the forward to Our Town, Donald Margulies argues that Thornton Wilder’s play is still representative of the “microcosm of the human family, genus American” (Marguiles xvii). Margulies statement about the plausible modern application of Our Town is readily seen through the three acts with Wilder’s themes of ritual and time. The enduring notions of ritual and time are specifically addressed and enhanced by Wilder’s use of specific hymns and music in the three-act play. Our Town still pertains to the 21st century American family by capturing “the universal experience of being alive” and through Wilder’s themes of ritual and time via the hymns and music that appear throughout the duration of the play (Marguiles xvii).

Wilder depicts the American family accurately, complete with hypocrisies and errors along with the rituals of daily life. Our Town shows that family life is centered on rituals that denote time, such as breakfast, high school commencement, weddings, and church. These events and rites of passage ultimately provide a sense of comfort in their tradition, some rituals leaving more of a lasting imprint on the memories of participants than others. With the passing of time, the little things slip through the cracks,...

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