Study Guide

Our Town Marriage

By Thornton Wilder

Marriage

Well, of course, it’s none of my business – but I think if a person starts out to be a teacher, she ought to stay one. (I.66)

The town’s schoolteacher quits after she gets married.

Nature’s been pushing and contriving in other ways, too: a number of young people fell in love and got married. (II.9)

Love and marriage are natural parts of life.

Almost everybody in the world gets married, - you know what I mean? In our town there aren’t hardly any exceptions. Most everybody in the world climbs into their graves married. (II.11)

People in Grover’s Corners stay married until the day they die.

I don’t see how he could give up a thing like that just to get married. (II.37)

Marriage and love are more important to George than baseball and fame.

I was the scaredest young fella in the State of New Hampshire. I thought I’d make a mistake for sure. And when I saw you comin’ down that aisle I thought you were the prettiest girl I’d ever seen, but the only trouble was that I’d never seen you before. There I was in the Congregation Church marryin’ a total stranger. (II.72)

Dr. Gibbs and Mrs. Gibbs met for the first time on their wedding day.

And how do you think I felt! – Frank, weddings are perfectly awful things. Farces, that’s what they are! (II.73)

Mrs. Gibbs reminisces about her wedding day and thinks that marriages are tedious.

Good morning, everybody. Only five more hours to live. Makes the gesture of cutting his throat, and a loud "k-k-k," and starts through the trellis. (II.98-9)

George compares his wedding to an execution.

I wish a fellow could get married without all that marching up and down. (II.140)

George would prefer to have a much simpler wedding.

Every man that’s ever lived has felt that way about it, George; but it hasn’t been any use. It’s the womenfolk who’ve built up weddings, my boy. For a while now the women have it all their own. A man looks pretty small at a wedding, George. All those good women standing shoulder to shoulder making sure that the knot’s tied in a mighty public way. (II.141)

Mr. Webb describes weddings as women’s business and something men will always dread.

Marriage is a wonderful thing, - wonderful thing. And don’t you forget that, George. (II.144)

Mr. Webb gently reminds George of the beauty of marriage.

They arrange the pews for the church in the center of the stage. The congregation will sit facing the back wall. The aisle of the church starts at the center of the back wall and comes toward the audience. (II.288)

The stage hands quickly switch the stage from the Gibbses’ and Webbs’ houses to a wedding ceremony, suggesting that life’s stages transition very quickly. The congregation extends in the audience’s direction, suggesting that we too are participants at the wedding.

This is a good wedding, but people are so put together that even at a good wedding there’s lots of confusion way down deep in people’s minds and we thought that that ought to be in our play, too. (II.297)

The Stage Manager argues that hesitation is impossible to eradicate, even at a good wedding.

Oh, I’ve got to say it: you know, there’s something downright cruel about sending our girls out into marriage this way. I hope some of her girl friends have told her a thing or two. It’s cruel, I know, but I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. I went into it blind as a bat myself. (II. 310-1)

Emily is a virgin and knows very little about sex. That’s just the way brides went into marriage at this time.

Don’t you remember that you used to say, – all the time you used to say – all the time: that I was your girl! There must be lots of places we can go to. I’ll work for you. I could keep house. (II.347)

Scared to belong to another man and leave her childhood behind, Emily begs her father to let her stay.

I’ve married over two hundred couples in my day. Do I believe in it? I don’t know. M…marries N…millions of them. (II.379-82)

The minister is uncertain about the institution of marriage, finding it amusing that millions of people participate in it.

MRS. GIBBS: No! – At least, choose an unimportant day. Choose the least important day of your life. It will be important enough.
EMILY: To herself. Then it can’t be since I was married; or since the baby was born. (III.155-7)

Emily considers her married days as the most important days of her life.