Margaret Atwood Happy Endings Analysis

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“If you want a happy ending, try A:” The Underlying Theme of Death in Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endings” Edgar Allan Poe once said, “The boundaries which divide Life and Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and the other begins?”(1). Death and its effects, as well as the mechanics of writing, are depicted in many of Atwood’s works, deeply influenced by her passion for Edgar Allan Poe’s works in literature. Death for Atwood in “Happy Endings” is not simply another macabre literary experiment. Atwood demonstrates that through death, beginnings and endings share a meaning that is one and the same and it resonates throughout the structure, narrative, reader interpretation, and overall tone of this piece of
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Although at first glance it does not look like a story, but instead mimics a set of notes lettered A-F, each part complicates the other, from the mundane to the tragic. The full work in and of itself runs in circles, “it 's like one of those bullet-time film sequences that allows us to see the truck from multiple angles and still be in danger, and then the truck stops, and we 're still in the middle of the road… looking backwards, and then forwards, and then backwards again, and wondering what to do now”…show more content…
The narrator of “Happy Endings” argues that every story ends with death, but while a character may die physically, a legacy lives on despite the narrator’s attempt to keep them disconnected. For example, Fred dies, end of story. Yet he lives on in the form of guilt, depression, frustration, and confusion in Madge’s mind. Additionally, with every broken, damaged, and shattered relationship that has occurred, a new one has developed. It may present as life with another person, or just the thought that a single life leads one down a new path, but without the “death” of the previous relationship, the new one never will have had a chance to tell its story. The narrator just might be correct in believing that death “is the only authentic ending,” but through the example of Fred, this truth may need to be taken one step further. In the words of Poe, “…Who shall say where one ends, and where the other
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