Winnie's Dramatic Story in “Happy Days" by Samuel Beckett

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Samuel Beckett’s play, “Happy Days,” portrays a woman, Winnie, buried in the ground, first up to her waist, then up to her neck, determined to live out her meaningful life. Although her situation is hopeless because she has no idea how she got there, Winnie trusts that her life is meaningful and truly believes that there is nothing she can do to change it. Consequently, Winnie focuses on trivial details to pass each day. Beckett definitely succeeds in making this character’s life dramatic by consuming her life with habits and rituals. Winnie’s life is focused around certain details that help her cope with her anxiety of existence. Beckett shows that internally Winnie is afraid of what cannot be predicted or controlled and therefore has her resort to trifles. Winnie’s dramatic story is centered on a famous quote from Beckett’s first published play, “Waiting for Godot,” in “Habit is the great deadener.”

Although this play is a comedy, there is a deeper side of the characters as well. It is funny in the aspect that both Winnie and Willie live in some strange universe unfamiliar to the readers and that they lead essentially meaningless lives, somehow surviving the passage of time, lack of connection with each other, and purposeless existence. As the play goes on, however, the reader starts to sense that Winnie has a fear deep inside of her about what is to come. She even starts mumbling a half forgotten prayer at the beginning of Act One where the reader only picks up, “World without end Amen” (752). Winnie blatantly prays for a world that has infinite life so she will not have to see the face of death. As the play develops, it is revealed that Winnie tries to avoid confronting the reality of her situation, Willie’s ignorance towards her, and the inevitability of death. It is almost as if Winnie is in denial about her life but does not yet recognize it. She, however, repeats, “…can’t complain – no no – musn’t complain much to be thankful for” (753) and...
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