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Act III is slightly different from the earlier acts in method. In Act I and Act II, the Stage Manager supplied the Background Information, but in this section, minor characters give important descriptions. The section opens in the cemetery with a new grave being prepared. Appropriately, the weather is rainy and gloomy. Joe Stoddard, the undertaker working on the preparation of Emily's grave, describes the town and its inhabitants to Sam Craig, Emily's cousin by marriage. Through the conversation of the two men, the audience learns about Mrs. Gibbs' death, Simon Stimson's suicide, and Emily's death during childbirth.
Like in earlier scenes, this section focuses simultaneously on two disparate things. This time it is the world of the living and the world of the dead. The funeral procession unsettles the spirits in the graveyard. They are uncomfortable when the living are close at hand, for they have tried to put behind their earthly ties. When they see the living, however, they think about life. Mrs. Soames says that it was both terrible and wonderful. Stimson disagrees, thinking it was all horrible; it is not a surprising attitude from a man who was an alcoholic and committed suicide.
Except in the presence of the living, death has liberated the spirits from the turmoil and suffering of life. It is ironic that the "coffined" ones have been set free, while the living ones seem to be "shut up in little boxes," blind to the beauty of their existence and incarcerated by the narrowness of their vision. This is exactly what Emily will discover when she revisits her home.
Wilder does many things in Act III to unify it to the two earlier acts. First and foremost, he keeps the attention of the audience focused on Emily, the most important character of the play. It is her funeral that is being shown on stage. Additionally, he has her dressed in white with her hair pulled back in youthfulness. It is a clear and intentional reflection of Emily as the bride in Act II. Mrs. Soames also helps to unify the play. Still the romantic at heart, she thinks back to Emily's lovely wedding in Act II. In his simplicity of his play, Wilder is weaving a classic masterpiece.