Our Town

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Mrs. Gibbs Character Analysis

Mrs. Gibbs is a loving wife and mother, who works tirelessly to raise her two children, keep the house clean, prepare meals, do laundry, and carry out other household tasks. She seems happy in her life, but there are hints that she desires something more out of life. She tells Mrs. Webb that she dreams of going to Paris and traveling somewhere where people don’t speak English, but she never gets to go on this kind of trip. Nonetheless, Mrs. Gibbs lives a happy life in Grover’s Corners with her family and community. At the end of the play, when she is dead, she helps Emily adjust to her new existence after death.

Mrs. Gibbs Quotes in Our Town

The Our Town quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Gibbs or refer to Mrs. Gibbs. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Theater Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Perennial edition of Our Town published in 2003.
Act 1 Quotes

Only it seems to me that once in your life before you die you ought to see a country where they don’t talk in English and don’t even want to.

Related Characters: Mrs. Gibbs (speaker)
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Gibbs' bucket-list desire to travel abroad at least once in a lifetime (her preference is to go to Paris) betrays a worldliness we don't see in the other members of the Grover's Corners community. Her conviction that a complete life should include the experience of being a foreigner somewhere is in deep contrast to the routine and rootedness we otherwise witness in Grover's Corners, whose residents largely live their whole lives in one place.

At the same time, as the audience we have hindsight knowledge of Mrs. Gibb's passing, of the fact that she never actually gets to Paris or anywhere else far outside Grover's Corners, and so her wanderlust takes on a darker tone. There is the sense that she doesn't, and can't, know how limited her time is. And this idea also suggests a more general fact: none of us can know how limited our time is either, and many of our dreams will go unfulfilled. 

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Act 2 Quotes

And how do you think I felt!—Frank, weddings are perfectly awful things. Farces,—that’s what they are!

Related Characters: Mrs. Gibbs (speaker), Dr. Gibbs
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

As George prepares to marry Emily, Mrs. Gibbs' angry and emotional denouncement of weddings, which she expresses outright to her own husband, is a poignant moment of rebellion against the very tradition she herself is apart of—marriage. 

Mrs. Gibbs' message is mixed: though she encourages George to go through with his marriage in spite of his doubts, though she says people are meant to go through life together in pairs as a means of avoiding loneliness, she also declares here that weddings are "perfectly awful" and "farces." 

In particular, Mrs. Gibbs' statement that marriage is a farce calls into question which of her many messages she truly believes in. We are left wondering whether her statement about marriage as a counter to loneliness is at all sincere, or whether she actually finds the institution unfulfilling and superficial. 

Yes... people are meant to go through life two by two. ’Tain’t natural to be lonesome.

Related Characters: Mrs. Gibbs (speaker)
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

On the morning of her son's wedding to Emily, Mrs. Gibbs, in one of her numerous and rather conflicting views on marriage,  endorses the institution here as a critical, even sanctified part of life. Besides being a tradition, marriage is a means of protection against loneliness. According to Mrs. Gibbs, going through life alone verges on the unnatural. 

Nevertheless, the truth of Mrs. Gibbs' statement is questionable when considering the dissatisfaction she expresses over marriage and weddings within the very same act. Coming from someone who has been married as long as she has, we are led to wonder whether marriage is at all effective in healing loneliness, or whether it is more of a placebo that the townspeople indulge in for the promise of a quick-fix. After all, the marriages we see in the play- the Stimsons, the Webbs, the Gibbs, and Emily and George, whose life together is cut short by Emily's untimely death- are not free of dissatisfaction or loneliness. 

Ma, I don’t want to grow old. Why’s everybody pushing me so?

Related Characters: George Gibbs (speaker), Mrs. Gibbs
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, a soon-to-be-married George mirrors his bride-to-be's reluctance towards their impending wedding. Asides from the significance of marriage as a town tradition, and as one of life's milestones, it represents in many ways maturation and sacrifice. Though still young, George's youthful chapter is closing in on him quickly. 

And yet, it is somewhat inconsequential whether or not George does not want to grow old. Time is out of his control in the same way it is out of everyone's, and the changes it brings—in George's case, the transition from a young, schoolboy type into a married family man—must therefore be embraced rather than resisted. Though George's mother, in whom he is confiding in these lines, has her own reservations about marriage, she and the others whom George thinks are pushing him are also more experienced. They know, as George perhaps does not, that time and change is unavoidable, even in Grover's Corners. 

Act 3 Quotes

No!—At least, choose an unimportant day. Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough.

Related Characters: Mrs. Gibbs (speaker), Emily Webb
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

After a recently deceased Emily insists she must go back and revisit her life, the more experienced dead try, and fail, to dissuade her. However, Mrs. Gibbs, mother-in-law to Emily, at least persuades her to revisit an ordinary day as opposed to a significant one, such as, for instance, her wedding day.

Emily's initial insistence on a momentous occasion and Mrs. Gibbs' advice is a comment on our tendency to take for granted the marvels of the everyday. By going back to the everyday and the ordinary, she is finally able to understand how precious the mundane reality of life truly is, something she—and by extension, we—could never truly appreciate in life.

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Mrs. Gibbs Character Timeline in Our Town

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Gibbs appears in Our Town. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
...in one building), schools, grocery store, and drugstore. He points out Dr. Gibbs’ house and Mrs. Gibbs ’ garden, as well as the house of Mr. Webb, the editor of Grover’s Corners’... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...house after helping a mother in the Polish neighborhood of town give birth to twins. Mrs. Gibbs walks into her kitchen and begins preparing breakfast. The stage manager tells the audience that... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...milk to various houses. He talks to Dr. Gibbs and then delivers some milk to Mrs. Gibbs . Mrs. Gibbs calls for her kids to get up and come to breakfast, as... (full context)
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
In their separate houses, Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Webb continue to call for their children to come to breakfast. Mrs. Gibbs... (full context)
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...in the two households, Mrs. Webb tells her children not to eat too quickly, while Mrs. Gibbs tells George she’ll speak to Dr. Gibbs about possibly raising his allowance. The kids finish... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Mrs. Gibbs tells Mrs. Webb that a secondhand furniture dealer from Boston came to her house and... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...travels to Civil War battlefields and thinks “that’s enough treat for anybody.” Mrs. Webb encourages Mrs. Gibbs to keep dropping hints about Paris. Mrs. Gibbs comments that she thinks, “once in your... (full context)
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...the farm, since he has not been doing chores at home. He tells him that Mrs. Gibbs had to chop wood because he hadn’t done it, even though she already spends so... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
George goes back upstairs as Mrs. Gibbs , Mrs. Webb, and Mrs. Soames come on-stage, returning from choir practice. Mrs. Soames gossips... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Dr. Gibbs is upset that Mrs. Gibbs is arriving home so late (though she tells him it isn’t any later than usual)... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Mrs. Gibbs says that she is worried about her husband and wants him to make plans to... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Once they are inside, Mrs. Gibbs mentions that people in Grover’s Corners have begun to lock their doors at night. Dr.... (full context)
Act 2
Community Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...Marriage.” It is the morning of July 7, just after the local high school graduation. Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Webb enter their respective kitchens to make breakfast. The stage manager emphasizes that... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Howie delivers some milk to Mrs. Gibbs and offers his best wishes for George’s wedding. He delivers milk to the Webb household... (full context)
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Dr. Gibbs recalls Mrs. Gibbs ’ and his wedding, saying that he was scared and nervous. Mrs. Gibbs says she... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...play the minister at the wedding. He speaks about the importance of marriage, agreeing with Mrs. Gibbs that “people were made to live two-by-two.” The wedding ceremony begins and Mrs. Webb speaks... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...group of baseball players from his team whistles and teases him, calling him “old geezer.” Mrs. Gibbs notices that George looks troubled up at the altar and goes to talk to him.... (full context)
Act 3
The Theater Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...intermission between acts, stagehands set up rows of chairs to represent graves in a cemetery. Mrs. Gibbs , Simon Stimson, Mrs. Soames, and Wally Webb, all dead, go on-stage before the act... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
The dead Mrs. Gibbs points out Sam, her nephew, to Simon Stimson. Sam sees Simon’s grave and recalls his... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...have remembered that “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds” was her favorite hymn. She tells Mrs. Gibbs about her home with George. (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Emily comments that “live people don’t understand,” and Mrs. Gibbs agrees. Emily describes living people as “shut up in little boxes.” The funeral ends and... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Emily asks if she can go back and relive her life. Mrs. Gibbs says she can, but advises her not to. The stage manager tells her that it... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
But Emily is determined relive some of her earlier life. Mrs. Gibbs tells her to at least choose an ordinary, unimportant day. Emily chooses her twelfth birthday... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...the disapproval of some of the dead. Emily comments that the living don’t understand, and Mrs. Gibbs agrees. (full context)