I think that Cunningham is suggesting that the notion of purity in terms of absolute freedom and happiness is impossible. To a great extent, Cunningham's characterizations suggest that individuals must live with being limited in their conceptions of freedom and happiness. Being constricted in this matter does not necessarily indicate that one is fundamentally miserable or incapable of happiness. Rather, one must find those elements in this life that give happiness and solace and exist for those entities. "The Hours" that human beings live are filled with such notions and to discover them, to "be able to stare at them" and "to look life in the face" with these concepts by our side is where happiness lies. Laura and Virginia are unhappy because of their social settings, but they are also unhappy because they are unable to make peace with those elements around them that seek to give happiness. Leonard's devotion to his wife and Richard's need for his mother are simply not enough for these women. Yet, Clarissa begins to understand that the elements of being a mother and a spouse to another can provide solace from the pain that exists in being. In this, I am not entirely certain that Cunningham is suggesting that a character is destiny, but rather recognizing that there are elements in our being that can provide solace and a sense of relief to the pain intrinsic to human consciousness. It seems that the lessons of Virginia and Laura would be this, elements that they failed to see. In this, what it means to be human becomes something redemptive and not something as bound as destiny.