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As Act II of Our Town by Thornton Wilder begins, the Stage Manager informs the audience that this is the wedding day of Emily and George.
The day begins as usual with Mrs. Gibbs coming down to start the day by making breakfast for the family and visiting wedding guests. When Dr. Gibbs comes down, he begins to tease his wife about losing one of her children to marriage.
Mrs. Gibbs attempts to keep her emotions in check. She has so many things to do. For a few minutes though, she shares her fears about George being too immature to be getting married. He does not take care of his clothes and never thinks to dress warmly. Emily is too immature as well.
In his wisdom, Dr. Gibbs helps his wife to put this life experience into perspective. He thinks back to their wedding day. When he was standing down at the front of the church waiting on her to come down the aisle, Dr. Gibbs says he was the most nervous person in the entire state. He looked at his bride to be and felt like he did not know her.
The good doctor worries about George's readiness for marriage also:
I get a shock every time I think of George setting out to be a family man--that great gangling thing--I tell you Julia there is nothing so terrifying in the world than a son...
One of the realizations that the doctor has come to is that Emily and George will have a lot of troubles, but that is not the parents' business. Every couple has a right to their own troubles.
With insight, Mrs. Gibbs comments that everyone should live two-by-two. No one needs to live alone and lonely.
Humorously, Dr. Gibbs ends the conversation with the comment that what he most worried about was that they would not have enough material to carry on conversations. Now, many years later, they are still married, in love, and friends.
Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs use the wedding day as an opportunity to reflect on their own marriage, portrayed as being quite happy. They ponder the complex aspects of love and wonder about the difficulties that George and Emily will face especially on the problems of raising a family.
The anxieties that await Emily and George are the same ones that awaited Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs years ago. The wedding ceremony itself is not the only ritual passed from generation to generation. Other elements, like the challenges of handling the practicalities of married life, are just as enduring.
When the wedding is about the begin, both George and Emily become confused about their feelings and nervous about getting married. Wilder uses these emotions to remind the audience that like this young couple, their parents experienced some of the same jitters and confusion. Life repeats itself. Very little is new in the area of love and marriage. The millions of ancestors who witness this wedding in spirit went to their graves after experiencing life two-by-two.
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