Margaret Atwood 's Happy Endings Essay

Margaret Atwood 's Happy Endings Essay

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Happy endings are everyone’s favorite. They are so perfect, yet so dull. The reader can sometimes find itself more intrigued by the difficulties that a character faces than by the happiness the character achieves. The audience wants to feel the characters, not just see them. With her unique structure and style, Margaret Atwood undermines character complexity and their actions to favor the fact that all stories end the same way and what matters is how and why they get to that point. This is the theme Margaret Atwood conveys throughout her short story “Happy Endings”.
“Happy Endings” is a short story that briefly introduces two characters, John and Mary, and is followed by six different short stories of what could happen to them after they meet. These scenarios are succinct and intentionally underdeveloped. They all culminate in death and return to section A. In the last section, Atwood steps in to explain her scheme.
The structure of this short story challenges the traditional form. It does not have a set exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution that most short stories are characterized with. It is setup like a multiple-choice scenario, from A to F, which allows the reader to choose their own ending, based on their preference of complexity. Since the beginning, Atwood invited the audience to “try A” (Atwood 1). Further into the passage, Atwood uses a variation of sentence structure. In some cases, there are long, extended sentences such as in plot B, where one sentence is almost 120 words. In other instances, the sentences can be very explicit and short. Atwood wrote, “Mary falls in love with John but John doesn’t fall in love with Mary” (Atwood 1). The sentence length can mean a lot. The small sentence is ...


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...ted to prove that their actions are irrelevant, what matters is the how and the why, “the motivations, the thoughts, the desires, and the way the characters respond to the inevitable interruptions to A” (Sustana 2). That is what the reader craves, not the stereotypical happy ending.
Margaret Atwood’s original piece “Happy Endings” rewrites the rules for storytelling. She proves that endings are always the same, so the plots are irrelevant. They just keep the story moving forward. Atwood states that what really matters is how and why the characters do and act the way they do. She knows that the audience wants to live through the characters, get into their head and explore them, not just be present while they act out their scene. Atwood manages to get her message across in a creative manner. She uses a nontraditional structure and a satirical style to prove her point.

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