illustrated portrait of Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett

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How does the character in "Happy Days" treat Willie and what is the significance of their final look?

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Beckett’s play again pairs the thinking aspect of human existence and the physical, the talker and the listener (see Waiting for Godot and Ohio Impromptu for other examples, although this pairing can be found in virtually every work of Beckett’s), this time placing the monosyllabic,virtually silent Willie almost out of sight, and putting Winnie in a constricted cone of ever-collapsing sand, probably connecting her with the Jungian notion of “Earth-mother."  (Her treatment of Willie is basically the relationship of mind to body.) The parodies of “normal” wedded bliss, the incessant verbiage with references to arbitrary subjects, the inconclusive non-plot, the two-act structure, and other enigmas are Beckett’s signature representations of the human condition, the Dasein of our everyday existence.  The final look between the two characters is Beckett’s imitation of the brief act of the mind and the body making contact for one brief moment, making this a “Happy Day” brought on by Willie’s half-utterance “Win-.”  

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