At the outset, Atwood gives the reader an exceedingly basic outline of a story with characters John and Mary in plotline A. As we move along to the subsequent plots she adds more detail and depth to the characters and their stories, although she refers back with “If you want a happy ending, try A” (p.327), while alluding that other endings may not be as happy, although possibly not as dull and foreseeable as they were in plot A. Each successive plot is a new telling of the same basic story line; labeled alphabetically A-F; the different plots describe how the character’s lives are lived with all stories ending as they did in A. The stories tell of love gained or of love lost; love given but not reciprocated. The characters experience heartache, suicide, sadness, humiliation, crimes of passion, even happiness; ultimately all ending in death regardless of “the stretch in between”. (p.329)
At the beginning of the story, in plot “A”, John and Mary are introduced as a stereotypical happy couple with stereotypically happy lives of middle class folks. Words like “stimulating” and “challenging” are used repetitiously to describe events in thei...
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...ation of men and women to the reader; we accept the cliché’s and gender-roles as the collective standard.
Atwood’s “Happy Endings” retells the same characters stories several times over, never deviating from clichéd gender roles while detailing the pursuit of love and life and a happy ending in the middle class. The predictability of each story and the actions each character carries out in response to specific events is an outline for how most of us carry on with our lives. We’re all looking for the house, the dog, the kids, the white picket fence, and we’d all like to die happy.
The stories suggest we shouldn’t be spending so much time trying to get to the “Happy Ending”, and we should be more concerned about what’s going on in the middle. The majority of us are that typical person living the typical life, and perhaps Atwood is suggesting that we strive for more.
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- Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endings” is an Author’s telling of societal beliefs that encompass the stereotypical gender roles and the pursuit of love in the middle class with dreams of romance and marriage. Atwood writes about the predictable ways in which many life stories are concluded for the middle class; talking about the typical everyday existence of the average, ordinary person and how they live their lives. Atwood provides the framework for several possibilities regarding her characters’ lives and how each character eventually completes their life with their respective “happy ending”.... [tags: story and character analysis]
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