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Our Town

Our Town

by Thornton Wilder

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Tragedy

Anticipation Stage

George flirts with Emily, effectively hitting her with Cupid’s arrow

Emily is growing up and becoming aware of boys – not just any boy, but the boy next door: George Gibbs. She asks her mother whether she’s pretty or not and dreamily sits outside at night after George flirts with her. Will George fall for a different girl? Keep turning that page, avid readers.

Dream Stage

Over strawberry ice cream sodas, mutual attraction is revealed.

George and Emily have their whole future ahead of them. Not only are they presumably dreaming about their future, we the audience are doing the same.

Frustration Stage

George and Emily have misgivings about marriage.

Both George and Emily experience moments of anxiety to the tune of "I don’t wanna grow up."

Nightmare Stage

Not Applicable.

There is no nightmare stage in Our Town, which only emphasizes how quick the transition can be between the happiest day of your life (your wedding day) and your day of death. Death doesn’t always give warning signs.

Destruction or Death wish Stage

Emily dies and decides to visit the real world again.

Without any warning, we move to the third act only to find that Emily has died during child labor. Once dead, Emily is determined to return to the real world, but realizes that watching old events is painful because the living humans don’t recognize life’s transience.

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