Free Study Guide for Our Town by Thornton Wilder-Book Summary |
The Stage Manager announces he will play the role of minister for the wedding. He then apologizes to the audience that there is not time to have a detailed wedding scene and asks them to use their imagination to fill in the spaces. He also adds a few props to make the stage seem like a church for the audience. The technique is very similar to when he used a few props and a few words to describe the town of Gover’s Corners in Act I. In both instances, the people in the audience are expected to fill in the details from their own experience, making the play more universal.
Wilder is careful to present the wedding as normal and ordinary, just like any other small town ceremony. The minister states it is only one of hundreds that he has performed. The wedding, therefore, serves as an extension of the play’s theme that everything is ordinary and universal in Grover’s Corners. In his presentation of the marriage, he includes the nervous bride and groom, the worried parents, the teasing of the groom, the normal wedding music, the guests showering compliments, and the minister’s comments about life, love, and marriage.
The apprehension over marriage expressed by both George and Emily is not surprising. They are very young and terribly naïve. No wonder he worries about taking on the responsibilities of a wife and frets about growing old. After all, neither he nor Emily has lived away from the comforts and security of their family home. Additionally, Mrs. Webb admits that she has ill prepared her daughter for the surprises of marriage. Fortunately, parents come to the rescue one more time. Mrs. Gibbs tells George that she is ashamed of his cold feet at the last moment; and Mr. Webb assures Emily that George will be a good husband and provider and then hands her over to him.
Through the comments of the Stage Manager, Wilder again traces the circle of life that is a key theme of the entire play; people are born, develop a routine, grow up, marry, raise children, and die. He emphasizes that marriage is a key part of the divine pattern of living, again stating that “two by two” is the correct way of life; after marriage comes the predictable chain of events, including “the cottage, the go-cart, the Sunday afternoon drives in the Ford, the first rheumatism, the grandchildren, the second rheumatism, the deathbed, the reading of the will.” He also points out that from marriage come children, God’s attempt to make a perfect creation.
The act ends when the bride and groom walk hand-in-hand through the auditorium, and the Stage Manager announces it is time for the next intermission, bringing the audience back to the reality that they are watching a play. The ending is similar to the one in Act I. Once again the repetition emphasizes the theme of the common and ordinary; it also serves to unify the play.
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on Our Town".
. 09 May 2017