Happy Days

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A: Samuel Beckett Pf: 1961, New York Pb: 1961 G: Drama in 2 acts S: A mound of sand, the future C: 1m, 1fWinnie, a buxom blonde of about 50, is sleeping, buried in a mound up to her breasts. When a bell rings, she happily sets about starting her daily routine. Chattering gaily, she pulls objects out of her handbag, including a revolver, brushes her teeth and hair, drinks medicine, and tosses the bottle away. This lands on her husband Willie, who appears from behind the mound. He starts to read items out of an old newspaper and then studies a pornographic postcard, which Winnie insists on seeing and then throws away in disgust. Willie retreats into a hole to escape from the ‘hellish heat’, and Winnie erects her parasol, which soon bursts into flames. She reminisces about the past, including a meeting with a couple named Shower or Cooker. Declaring this to have been another happy day, Winnie settles herself for sleep. When she is next woken by the bell, she is buried up to her neck. Although she cannot even move her head, she continues to chatter away gaily. Willie suddenly appears, ‘dressed to kill’ in morning coat and top hat. Winnie is delighted, as he crawls towards her (and towards the revolver). The bell rings, and they stare at each other as the curtain falls.

A: Samuel Beckett Pf: 1961, New York Pb: 1961 G: Drama in 2 acts S: A mound of sand, the future C: 1m, 1f

As in Endgame, it appears that we are in some post-nuclear holocaust future, in which there is constant blazing light, and days are marked by the ringing of a bell. The difference is that, while Hamm and Clov suffer from their awareness of the end of human civilization, Winnie remains buoyantly optimistic about her dreadful existence, which makes the play both funnier and more poignant.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

Reference entries

Samuel Beckett (1906—1989) author

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