- Samuel Beckett - Happy Days
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
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
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
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.