The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder
Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth" is an epic play that takes us on a rich and complex journey through time and space, exploring the cyclical nature of history and the resilience of the human spirit. The play is a masterpiece that is divided into three acts, each of which spans a different time period and features a different set of characters. This literary work is a great example of how a play can be used to convey a variety of themes and ideas, while also leaving readers in awe of its depth and complexity.
Act One of "The Skin of Our Teeth" is set in the Ice Age, where we follow the adventures of the Antrobus family, a group of survivors who are struggling to stay alive in a harsh and unforgiving world. We are introduced to George Antrobus, the patriarch of the family, who represents the human need for survival and adaptation. His wife, Maggie, embodies the enduring power of love and family. The family is also accompanied by their maid, Sabina, who serves as a comedic foil to the more serious themes of the play. Act One is a commentary on the human struggle to survive in a hostile world and shows how love and family can help us persevere through difficult times.
Act Two of "The Skin of Our Teeth" takes place in Atlantic City during the Great Flood, where the Antrobus family is now living in a more modern setting. This act explores the themes of progress and innovation, as well as the dangers of complacency and conformity. The family is faced with various challenges, including the arrival of a fortune teller and the threat of a war between the sexes. Act Two is a commentary on the dangers of complacency and the need for constant growth and innovation to avoid stagnation.
Act Three of "The Skin of Our Teeth" is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the Antrobus family and other survivors are struggling to rebuild society after a devastating war. This act serves as a commentary on the cyclical nature of history and the never-ending struggle between good and evil. The family is faced with new challenges, including the arrival of an enigmatic figure named Henry, who may represent either hope or despair. Act Three shows the aftermath of progress and innovation, highlighting the dangers of unchecked ambition and the need for caution and balance.
Throughout the play, Wilder employs a number of literary devices, including allegory, irony, and metafiction, to create a complex and multifaceted work that defies easy categorization. "The Skin of Our Teeth" is a play that challenges our assumptions about the world and ourselves, inviting us to question our own beliefs and values. It is a work that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and reminds us that, no matter how bleak things may seem, there is always hope for a better tomorrow.
In conclusion, "The Skin of Our Teeth" is a play that is sure to captivate and inspire readers for generations to come. Whether read as a commentary on history, a meditation on the human condition, or simply as a work of art, this play is a true masterpiece that offers a thought-provoking and engaging journey through time and space. Its exploration of the human struggle for survival, progress, and rebuilding society is a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit. It is a work that will continue to challenge and inspire readers for years to come.