Thornton Wilder Our Town Quotes

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Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
EMILY: "Does anyone ever realize life while they live it...every, every minute?" STAGE MANAGER: "No. Saints and poets maybe...they do some.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Only it seems to me that once in your life before you die you ought to see a country where they don't talk in English and don't even want to.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
People are meant to go through life two by two. ’Tain’t natural to be lonesome.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners... Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking... and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Wherever you come near the human race there’s layers and layers of nonsense.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
I want you to try and remember what it was like to have been very young. And particularly the days when you were first in love; when you were like a person sleepwalking, and you didn’t quite see the street you were in, and didn’t quite hear everything that was said to you. You’re just a little bit crazy. Will you remember that, please?
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Yes, now you know. Now you know! That's what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those...of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion, or another. Now you know — that's the happy existence you wanted to go back to. Ignorance and blindness.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Does anybody realize what life is while they're living it- every, every minute?
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Simon Stimson: "...That's what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion, or another.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Everybody has a right to their own troubles.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
You've got to love life to have life, and you've got to have life to love life.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
There are the stars--doing their old, old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven't settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings out there. Just chalk... or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. Strain's so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Let's really look at one another!...It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed... Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover's Corners....Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking....and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths....and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every,every minute? (Emily)
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
That’s what it was like to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those...of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion, or another. Now you know- that’s the happy existence you wanted to go back to. Ignorance and blindness. -Simon Stimson, OUR TOWN
Thornton Wilder
Once in a thousand times, it's interesting.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Do human beings ever realize life while they live it ?-every, every minute?
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
I can't look at everything hard enough!
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Now there are some things we all know, but we don't take'm out and look at'm very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain't houses and it ain't names, and it ain't earth, and it ain't even the stars… everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you'd be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There's something way down deep that's eternal about every human being.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
EMILY: Softly, more in wonder than in grief. I can’t bear it. They’re so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old? Mama, I’m here. I’m grown up. I love you all, everything.—I can’t look at everything hard enough.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
So - people a thousand years from now...This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying.
Thornton Wilder
I’m awfully interested in how big things begin. You know how it is; you’re twenty-one or twenty-two and you make some decisions. . . then whissh! you’re seventy. You’ve been a lawyer for fifty years and that white-haired lady by your side has eaten over 50,000 meals with you. How do such things begin?
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Emily: Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I'm dead. You're a grandmother, Mama! Wally's dead, too. His appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway. We felt just terrible about it - don't you remember? But, just for a moment now we're all together. Mama, just for a moment we're happy. Let's really look at one another!...I can't. I can't go on.It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back -- up the hill -- to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover's Corners....Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking....and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths....and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every,every minute? Stage Manager: No. (pause) The saints and poets, maybe they do some. Emily: I'm ready to go back.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Y'know — Babylon once had two million people in it, and all we know about 'em is the names of the kings and some copies of wheat contracts . . . and contracts for the sale of slaves. Yet every night all those families sat down to supper, and the father came home from his work, and the smoke went up the chimney,— same as here. And even in Greece and Rome, all we know about the real life of the people is what we can piece together out of the joking poems and the comedies they wrote for the theatre back then. So I'm going to have a copy of this play put in the cornerstone and the people a thousand years from now'll know a few simple facts about us — more than the Treaty of Versailles and the Lind-bergh flight. See what I mean? So — people a thousand years from now — this is the way we were in the provinces north of New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. — This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying. Said by the Stage Manager
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
EMILY: Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?— every, every minute? STAGE MANAGER: No. The saints and poets, maybe—they do some.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Emily: "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute?" Stage Manager: "No." Pause. "The saints and poets, maybe — they do some.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
the theatre was the greatest of all the arts.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
our town we like to know the facts about everybody.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Only it seems to me that once in your life before you die you ought to see a country where they don’t talk in English and don’t even want to.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
To survive, a story must arouse wonder.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
You're pretty enough for all normal purposes.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
War’s a pleasure—do you hear me?—War’s a pleasure compared to what faces us now: trying to build up a peacetime with you in the middle of it.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town, The Matchmaker, and The Skin of Our Teeth)
A man looks pretty small at a wedding
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
True simplicity becomes transcendent. There’s something about the sacred ordinary
Howard Sherman (Another Day's Begun: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the 21st Century)
series of infatuations for admired writers.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Braque and James Joyce, they are the incomprehensibles whom anybody can understand
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
on the brink of war and then tumbling into it. The
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
That mask of Wilder’s
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
is a categorical imperative commanding you to absorb what it is you love and make it yours.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Yes. I declare—easy as kittens.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Is there no one in town aware of social injustice and industrial inequality?
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
You’ve got to love life to have life, and you’ve got to have life to love life. . . . It’s what they call a vicious circle.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Can’t tell, Si. Never had no talent that way.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
There I was in the Congregational Church marryin’ a total stranger.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
perfectly awful things. Farces,—that’s what they are!
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Well, I heard a lot of the hours struck
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
There’s a lot of common sense in some superstitions, George.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
tell the truth and shame the devil.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
That men aren’t naturally good; but girls are.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
can remember when a dog could go to sleep all day in the middle of Main Street and nothing come along to disturb him.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Wherever you come near the human race, there’s layers and layers of nonsense. . .
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
weaned away.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Live people don’t understand, do they?
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
All I can say is, Emily, don’t.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
You not only live it; but you watch yourself living
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
of ignorance;
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
we came through the depression by the skin of our teeth;
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
children are a thing only a parent can stand,
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
the master of the house don’t pinch decent, self-respecting girls when he meets them in a dark corridor. I mention no names and make no charges.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
[Y]ou are a puzzle to me and if I could solve that puzzle I could solve the puzzle of America.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
America exists to solve problems. America is the solution to the problem,
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
where do we go for experience? How do we trust
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Under all that sunny generosity of Wilder’s, who’s really there? What’s under that mask? Is there a mask? Theater is the place of masks. Do the three
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
never knew who to send a letter to with the Thornton Wilder stamp.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
They even found themselves able to die if they wanted to.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
satisfied my passion for compression.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
exasperate the reader as much as he does the sinners he meets on his journey through America selling textbooks. You
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
She made America not just acceptable to Thornton, but necessary;
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
keep them warm burn everything except Shakespeare.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Three cheers have invented the wheel.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
Y'know Babylon once had two million people in it, and all we know about 'em is the names of the kings and some copies of wheat contracts . . . and contracts for the sale of slaves. Yet every night all those families sat down to supper, and the father came home from his work, and the smoke went up the chimney, same as here. And even in Greece and Rome, all we know about the real life of the people is what we can piece together out of the joking poems and the comedies they wrote for the theatre back then. So I'm going to have a copy of this play put in the cornerstone and the people a thousand years from now'll know a few simple facts about us more than the Treaty of Versailles and the Lind-bergh flight. See what I mean? So people a thousand years from now this is the way we were in the provinces north of New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Over there are some Civil War veterans. Iron flags on their graves... New Hampshire boys... had a notion that the Union ought to be kept together, though they’d never seen more than fifty miles of it themselves.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Yes, an awful lot of sorrow has sort of quietened down up here. People just wild with grief have brought their relatives up to this hill. We all know how it is... and then time... and sunny days... and rainy days... n' snow... We're all glad they're in a beautiful place and we're coming up here ourselves when our fit's over. Now there are some things we all know but we don't takem' out and look at'm very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain't houses and it ain't names, and it ain't earth, and ain't even the stars... everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you'd be surprised how people are always losing hold of it.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
Soothing stories have been plentiful in all ages. . . . To survive, a story must arouse wonder, wonder in both the senses in which we now employ the word: astonishment at the extent of man’s capability of good and evil, and speculation as to the sources of that capability.
Thornton Wilder (Three Plays: Our Town/The Matchmaker/The Skin of Our Teeth (Perennial Classics))
[On Thornton Wilder's Our Town] "I can't look at everything hard enough": The tragedy is that, while we're alive, we don't view our days in the knowledge that all things must pass. We don't--we can't--value our lives, our loved ones, with the urgent knowledge that they'll one day be gone forever. Emily notices with despair that she and her mother barely look at one another, and she laments our self-possession, our distractedness, the million things that keep us from each other. "Oh, Mama," she cries, "just look at me one minute as though you really saw me. . . . Let's look at one another." But other and daughter remain self-absorbed, each in a private sea of her own thoughts, and that moment of recognition, of connection, never comes. Eventually, Emily has to turn away.
Joe Fassler (Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process)
Part of Maya’s magic was the fact that there wasn’t anyone else like her in the world, but somehow everyone could see something of themselves in her story, her aspirations, and the sheer scope of her life. You’re Italian? Maya spoke Italian. You’re a dancer? So was she. You’re from San Francisco? She conducted a streetcar there. She knew everyone, lived everywhere, read everything, and felt it all. The whole world was her home. All people were her people. There’s a scene in Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town that almost could have been describing Maya. Emily Webb is saying goodbye to the world one last time, and she asks the stage manager: “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?” And he says, “No. The saints and poets, maybe—they do some.” That was Maya. She realized her life while she lived it. And not only that, she savored it—every single second.
Hillary Rodham Clinton (The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience)
George is this big, affable kid, and I think he’s honest. I think that he’s sensitive. I think he’s smart. I think he’s a lot smarter than certainly a lot of productions may portray him. I think he’s really open-minded and curious about the world. He may not have all of the answers to all of life’s questions, but he’s certainly open to the possibilities of great things.     When George and Rebecca are at the window and they’re looking at the moon, and she has that whole bit about the letter and the way it’s addressed, I think that that moment really shines a light on how vast the universe is. I don’t think that George had ever really considered his place in the universe. In some ways, he’s got this perspective of you want to stay home, you want to stay close, you want to stay safe. But then there’s this whole wide world out there that’s just waiting to be explored, and I don’t think that he even really realizes how vast it is until that moment.
Howard Sherman (Another Day's Begun: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the 21st Century)
When David heard that I needed a stage name, he started with A and worked his way through the alphabet, ripping off names faster than I thought anyone could think and speak at the same time. When he got to W and said, “Wilder,” the bell went off . . . Thornton Wilder . . . Our Town. I wanted to be “Wilder.
Gene Wilder (Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art)
I guess new people aren’t any better than old ones. I’ll bet they almost never are.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town: A Play in Three Acts)
You’ve got to love life to have life, and you’ve got to have life to love life.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town: A Play in Three Acts)