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In Act II from Our Town, Thornton Wilder presents the second phase of life: falling in love and getting married. At the end of the Act, the Stage Manager steps into the role of the minister who will marry Emily and George.
The Stage Manager presents a sermon prior to beginning the actual wedding. He makes several important statements that detail the significance of the marriage ceremony:
- The church believes that a wedding is an important ritual. The impact of one wedding ceremony lies in its connection to the greater human condition.
- People should live together as man and wife; two-by-two as Mrs. Gibbs labeled it.
- This particular wedding is a good one.
- This couple is young, but they have chosen the right partners. Typically, both of them had wedding jitters and confusion.
The real hero is not present in form but in spirit—God. This is God’s ceremony.
- Every time a child is born, nature is trying to make the perfect person.
- Nature is interested in quantity; moreover, she is even more interested in quality.
The other people that are present but unseen are the millions of ancestors that have gone before paired like the Gibbs and the Webbs: two-by-two.
Then the Wedding Ceremony
After the wedding, the Stage Manager/minister looks out at the audience and states:
I’ve married over two hundred couples in my day
Once in a thousand times, it’s interesting.
Without cynicism, the Stage Manager remarks that one in a thousand wedding ceremonies is interesting. Obviously, this wedding is one of those that is noteworthy because everything is as it should be.
The audience learns that a wedding is both a public approval of the bonding of two people; more importantly, it is a private pledge between two people for a life-long connection to each other and society to reproduce to maintain constancy and endurance.
This is a young couple that loves each other. They will live two-by-two. God is present in spirit and speaks through the Stage Manager.
The author intended for the audience to look at the citizens of Grover’s Corners and be able to relate to their feelings and emotions as they encapsulate the wedding and the nature of man. The ancestors are there representing the past; and the newly married couple represents the present and future.
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