This article argues that Horace Vandergelder is more than a typical one-dimensional character that inhabits a farce. It is likely that in constructing the character of Vandergelder, Wilder drew from personal and family experience. He sets The Matchmaker in the town neighboring his mother’s birthplace. Wilder experienced yeoman farming as a young man and saw its destruction as monoculture farming grew to dominate American agriculture. His father’s and grandfather’s views on alcohol and the social place of women impacted the way that Wilder viewed the world. His maternal and paternal family both included members who served in the Civil War and others who became involved in military fraternal organizations. Viewing Vandergelder’s characterization as deeply rooted in American history and culture explains both his actions and motives. Despite the immense hardship of his life, Vandergelder, a widower, is able to create a surrogate family that he does his best to protect despite their negative views of him. He changes at the end of The Matchmaker for the good of his family rather than to provide a happy ending for a comedy.

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