Our Town

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Mrs. Webb Character Analysis

The mother of Emily and Wally, Mrs. Webb is in many ways similar to Mrs. Gibbs—a similarity underscored by the way they prepare breakfast simultaneously in their two homes in acts one and two. She sings in the church choir with Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Soames. At Emily’s wedding, she briefly worries that she is sending Emily off into adulthood without having taught her enough about married, adult life.

Mrs. Webb Quotes in Our Town

The Our Town quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Webb or refer to Mrs. Webb. 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 2 Quotes

Oh, I’ve got to say it: you know, there’s something downright cruel about sending our girls out into marriage this way.

Related Characters: Mrs. Webb (speaker)
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Emily's doubts over her impending marriage to George Gibbs—the sadness of leaving her childhood behind, her abrupt departure from the Webb home and all its familiar comforts—crack Mrs. Webb's composed exterior and she expresses regret over the town's marital traditions. The institution of marriage is a cornerstone in Grover's Corners' traditional community, and the wife's role as mother and caretaker is integral to this system.

However, this moment reveals tradition's costs, as well. Although Mrs. Webb has in her life conformed to the town's standards for wifehood and womanhood, always taking a backseat to Mr. Webb, the bitter sentiment she betrays here shows her deep dissatisfaction over tradition and gender roles, suggesting that, amidst the constant push to uphold the town's values and traditions, individual dreams and lives, particularly those of women, get sacrificed. The play doesn't necessarily suggest a solution to this dilemma—that the preservation of an "ideal" traditional community has costs to women that might at first seem invisible—but it does identify that the issue is real and worthy of recognition (and in doing so suggests that social change can also have benefits, while admitting that such changes will also have costs, however unforeseen). 

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Mrs. Webb Character Timeline in Our Town

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Webb appears in Our Town. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Mrs. Webb also begins to make breakfast in her own home. Outside, Joe Crowell walks down Main... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...Mrs. Gibbs calls for her kids to get up and come to breakfast, as does Mrs. Webb in her own house. Mrs. Gibbs gives Dr. Gibbs some coffee and food and encourages... (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 tells Dr. Gibbs... (full context)
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
At breakfast in the two households, Mrs. Webb tells her children not to eat too quickly, while Mrs. Gibbs tells George she’ll speak... (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 offered her $350... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...two years he 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,... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
...“political and social report” on the town (since he is editor of the local newspaper). Mrs. Webb tells him that Mr. Webb will be there in a minute, as he just cut... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
George goes off to the baseball field, leaving Emily to speak with Mrs. Webb . Emily asks Mrs. Webb if she is good-looking and Mrs. Webb says she is... (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 with them... (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
...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 in their lives... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...his best wishes for George’s wedding. He delivers milk to the Webb household and tells Mrs. Webb that George and Emily will be very happy together, then leaves. Dr. Gibbs comes down... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
...is heading over to the Webb household. He walks over to the Webb home, but Mrs. Webb tells him that he cannot see Emily as it is bad luck to see one’s... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Mrs. Webb returns and tells George to leave so Emily can come eat breakfast. The stage manager... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...with Mrs. Gibbs that “people were made to live two-by-two.” The wedding ceremony begins and Mrs. Webb speaks to the audience, saying she doesn’t know why she is upset, but that “there’s... (full context)
Act 3
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...Joe says she died in childbirth. The funeral procession arrives, including George, Dr. Gibbs, and Mr. and Mrs. Webb . Mrs. Soames asks who died, and Mrs. Gibbs answers that it was Emily. (full context)
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Emily sees her mother, Mrs. Webb , and is amazed at how young she looks. Mr. Webb walks up Main Street,... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Mr. Webb arrives home and talks with Mrs. Webb about the cold weather they’ve been having. Mrs. Webb reminds him that it is Emily’s... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...with her mother but is finding reliving her life to be more and more difficult. Mrs. Webb makes Emily breakfast and shows her a present George brought her earlier that morning. Emily... (full context)