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Samuel Beckett - Happy Days

1. Dramatic Irony: Is there a dramatic distance between the audience and the characters or between the characters and themselves, as an outcome of the advantage of knowledge and understanding? (Can it be said that the characters have an advantage of understanding the irony through the knowledge about the fictional wall and their situation through different levels of irony)

Interwoven into Samuel Beckett's Happy Daysare dramatic elements that blur the theatrical boundaries between illusion and reality. The audience is presented with two characters, Winnie and Willie. Winnie dominates the performance and induces a distance between herself and Willie. Before the audience even sees Willie, they know about him because of the way Winnie uses him to generate forms of speech. He becomes a character who represents audience for Winnie. He is almost an objectified character, featuring as an anchor point for the exposition of Winnie's attempts to exist. Winnie can use Willie in this way because she can see him and has a prior knowledge about him.

Happy Days cannot be solely treated as a tragic play about the meaninglessness of the human condition. There are elements that draw the play into the conventions of comedy. This is suggestive of Beckett's attempt at a social criticism through tragi-comedy.
This is a frame to highlight the monotony of life, with Winnie, the housewife, trapped by the mounting dedication to keep the living-space a functioning space. Willie, the husband is engaged with the news, silencing himself to the endless chatter of his wife.
By hiding Willie, Beckett is able to build upon the outbursts of optimism from Winnie because she is not responded to. She sees her hopeless situation with a comical optimism culminating to her remark "Oh it's going to be a happy day!" (Beckett 1. 17). Comedy in the play, therefore, is established out of Winnie's attempt to generate normality in absurdity. 

Furthermore, the elements of comedy are more apparent for an audience who can turn their view to look upon themselves. They are watching, and sometimes laughing at a woman who is trying to survive an absurd life by a day-to-day routine. The audience are also victims of routine, by their very humanity.  This play is Beckett's attempt to create a satire about the theatrical audience positioning them as bleak beings who, like Winnie, exist in a world of daily routine, fleeting memories, and meaningless attempts to find fulfillment in speech.

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