Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood Analysis

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Margaret Atwood’s ‘‘Happy Endings’’ first appeared in the 1983 Canadian collection, Murder in the Dark, and it was published in 1994 for American audiences in Good Bones and Simple Murders. Subtitled ‘‘Short Fiction and Prose Poems,’’ Murder in the Dark featured four types of works: autobiographical sketches, travel notes, experimental pieces addressing the nature of writing, and short pieces dealing with typical Atwood themes, notably the relationship between the sexes. ‘‘Happy Endings,’’ which is essentially a self-referential story framework, falls into the third category. In ‘‘Happy Endings,’’ Atwood fulfills this role with a challenge that she throws out to those writers who rely on the stereotypical characterization of men and women and to the reader who accepts such gender typing. At the same time, she challenges other writers to more closely examine typical literary convention (1).

Margaret Atwood was born on November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Her childhood was divided between the city and the country. Her family spent the school year in Ottawa and Toronto, where her father taught entomology or worked for government agencies, and summers in northern Quebec and Ontario where her father conducted research. These early experiences away from urban society encouraged Atwood to read and develop her imagination. As a child, Atwood composed and illustrated poems, which she collected into small books. She wrote prose and poetry for her high school drama class. In her short story "Happy Endings", Margaret Atwood simultaneously displays her feelings about not only the art of creative writing, but also the equally artistic act of living one's life to the fullest. The story, if it can really be called a "story" in the traditional sense of the word, immediately breaks the thin wall of author/audience by presenting a completely unique structure: that of an outline or a jumbled notebook. By asking the reader, "If you want a happy ending, try A," Atwood is...
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