Our Town

Emily Webb Character Analysis

Emily is an intelligent, innocent young girl. She helps George with his homework in Act One and is upfront and honest with him about his conceited behavior in Act Two, which confirms for George how much he values her as a friend. Like George, she panics at their wedding, wanting to remain her father’s girl instead of growing up. When she passes away in Act Three, she attempts (as a still-existing soul) to relive her past life. However, she finds it too painful to go back knowing all that she now knows and ultimately returns to the present, letting go of her past life as Mrs. Gibbs encourages her to do. From her journey back in time, Emily gains a newfound appreciation for all the minute, everyday moments of life that living people don’t value highly enough.

Emily Webb Quotes in Our Town

The Our Town quotes below are all either spoken by Emily Webb or refer to Emily 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

It certainly seems like being away three years you’d get out of touch with things. Maybe letters from Grover’s Corners wouldn’t be so interesting after a while. Grover’s Corners isn’t a very important place when you think of all—New Hampshire; but I think it’s a very nice town.

The day wouldn’t come when I wouldn’t want to know everything that’s happening here. I know that’s true, Emily.

Related Characters: George Gibbs (speaker), Emily Webb (speaker)
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

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And, like you say, being gone all that time... in other places and meeting other people... Gosh, if anything like that can happen I don’t want to go away. I guess new people aren’t any better than old ones. I’ll bet they almost never are. Emily... I feel that you’re as good a friend as I’ve got. I don’t need to go and meet the people in other towns.

Related Characters: George Gibbs (speaker), Emily Webb
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

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And George over there, looking so ...! I hate him. I wish I were dead. Papa! Papa!

Emily! Emily! Now don’t get upset...

But, Papa,—I don’t want to get married....

Sh—sh—Emily. Everything’s all right.

Why can’t I stay for a while just as I am?

Related Characters: Emily Webb (speaker), Mr. Webb (speaker), George Gibbs
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Do human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?

Related Characters: Emily Webb (speaker)
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

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Emily Webb Character Timeline in Our Town

The timeline below shows where the character Emily Webb appears in Our Town. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...downstairs for breakfast. They finally enter: George (sixteen) and Rebecca (eleven). In the Webb household, Emily (sixteen) and Wally (eleven) come down to breakfast. (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...have just gotten out of school, and Mr. Webb is mowing his lawn. George and Emily come back to their homes from school. George compliments Emily on an impressive speech she... (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.... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
...the Tie That Binds.” This is the local church choir, directed by Simon Stimson. Meanwhile, Emily and George are “upstairs” in their respective rooms (symbolized on-stage by their being up in... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
...is up on the second floor of his house and asks who’s there. It is Emily, who says she can’t sleep, because the moonlight is so bright. Mr. Webb asks if... (full context)
Act 2
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...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 to breakfast in his... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
...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 bride on one’s wedding day. Mrs. Webb... (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 then interrupts and tells the audience that he... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Emily and George talk, and George offers to carry Emily’s books. He asks her why she... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Emily and George enter the local drugstore, where the stage manager plays Mr. Morgan, the owner... (full context)
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
George and Emily have ice cream sodas. George tells her that he is thankful to have a friend... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
George tells Emily that he is glad that she spoke to him about his conceitedness and admits that... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
George offers to walk Emily home, but embarrassingly doesn’t have any money on him to pay for the ice cream... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...now. Then she begins to cry, and George comforts her, telling her that he and Emily will come to dinner every Thursday. (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Emily enters, but is frightened. The choir begins to sing “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds.”... (full context)
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Mr. Webb asks George if he will take care of his daughter. George tells Emily he loves her and promises to do his best to take care of her. Emily... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
...of marriages, and that “once in a thousand times it’s interesting.” Newly married, George and Emily leave looking happy. The stage manager announces that the second act is finished. (full context)
Act 3
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...and Mrs. Webb. Mrs. Soames asks who died, and Mrs. Gibbs answers that it was Emily. (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Mrs. Soames recalls Emily and George’s wedding and how intelligent Emily was in school. A group at the funeral... (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... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Emily asks if she can go back and relive her life. Mrs. Gibbs says she can,... (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... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Emily talks with her mother but is finding reliving her life to be more and more... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Emily tells the stage manager that she can’t go on reliving her life, because “it goes... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Emily returns to the other deceased characters and tells them she should have taken their advice... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...the anonymous dead man found incredible. Meanwhile, George walks into the cemetery and kneels before Emily’s grave in grief, much to the disapproval of some of the dead. Emily comments that... (full context)