Pessimism in Thornton Wilder's "Our Town"

Essay by ChickenFeedHigh School, 10th gradeA+, March 2004

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Thornton Wilder epitomizes pessimism in "Our Town" through the everyday actions of the characters, the trivialness of life, and the attitudes of the dead toward their once loved world. People are spent through their meaningless everyday tasks, characters are shown to be worthless in comparison to the universe, and the attitudes of the dead about life are dull. These effects add up to illustrate Wilder's idea of pessimism.

One way Wilder shows pessimism in "Our Town" is by the everyday actions of the characters. One can always predict what is going to happen to the characters because they do the same thing everyday. The stage manager knows when and where any of the residents are going to do something. "The only lights on in the town are in a cottage by the tracks where a Polish mother's just had twins" (Wilder 756). Everyday the children eat breakfast and go to school.

They simply let life pass them by smoothly and predictably. The dreary, pessimistic ideas are furthered by other characters. Everyday, Howie Newsome deliveries milk to the town residents on a horse named Bessie. Everyday, one of the Crowell brothers delivers the newspaper. Wilder deeply expounds on the ideas of pessimism through the everyday actions of the town residents.

Pessimism seeps through the trivialness of characters' everyday lives. A magnificent example of this is when Jane Crofut receives a letter from her minister. It says, "Jane Crofut, The Crofut Farm, Grover's Corners, Sutton Country, New Hampshire, United States of America, Continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, The Earth, The Solar System, The Universe, The Mind of God" (Wilder 768). This shows how diminutive Jane Crofut really is and how unimportant she is compared to all the people who every lived, live, and will live. The whole idea of being...