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Thread: Happy Endings

  1. #1
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    Happy Endings

    What do you think of happy endings? Usually they annoy me, and seem like a cop-out.

    Another Happy Ending topic...Did any of you ever read Margaret Atwood's short story "Happy Endings"? It's only two pages long, so I recommend it if you get a chance.
    If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft, and of thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left, sell one, and with the dole buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

  2. #2
    smeghead
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    yeah, I hate happy endings. Too sugary. But it depends on the specific ending. It would be stupid to end it in death just to have a sad ending, as much as it would be to have an incredibly contrived happy ending. It depends, I guess.
    Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
    (Mark Twain)

  3. #3
    You CAN go Home Again Sindhu's Avatar
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    I would agree with faye that it depends. Louisa Alcott writes that she was severely tempted to end her Little Women series catastrophically- but in that particular context, that would have been ridiculous. It really depends on how the plot has been built up in advance.
    Sindhu.
    I'm nobody, who are you?
    Are you nobody too?
    There's a pair of us, don't tell!
    They'd banish us, you know!

    How dreary to be somebody!

  4. #4
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
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    Yeah. I dont really prefer happy or sad endings. I really just prefer endings that I can believe in. Like if the whole plot leads to Guy running away with Other Girl, Guy should run away with other girl. He shouldn't go "What the hell was I thinking" at the last minute and screw up the ending. On the converse, if its been an intense novel all the way through, it should have an intense ending. The most effective way to invoke intesity is through tragedy, although I have read some intense novels with happy endings.
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

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    Yeah that's pretty much what I meant, happy endings that don't suit the rest of the book (i.e. C+P). I hate the feeling of being faked out.

    On the other hand though, happy endings, even if they match the rest of the story never strike me as particularlily realistic. In real life, things don't usually all come together to work out for the best. I guess that's the beauty of fiction though.

    Even in real life when things end happily for the protagonist, their are minor charactors and the antagonist for whom it ends unhappily. And in their mind they are the protagonist, so actually the story doesn't end happily at all fo the protagonist.

    I know that made absolutely no sense, but do you kinda understand what I'm saying? As long as you can stay in your own life, where you are the protagonist, things have a possibility of ending happily, but when you slip your consciousness into other people then it all gets messed up because your happy ending depends on their unhappy ending.

    Nevermind.
    If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft, and of thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left, sell one, and with the dole buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

  6. #6
    You CAN go Home Again Sindhu's Avatar
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    Originally posted by piquant
    I know that made absolutely no sense, but do you kinda understand what I'm saying? As long as you can stay in your own life, where you are the protagonist, things have a possibility of ending happily, but when you slip your consciousness into other people then it all gets messed up because your happy ending depends on their unhappy ending.

    Nevermind.
    Glad you said Never mind, piquant- my head's still reeling!
    Actually, I guess I do see what you're getting at- sort of!
    Sindhu.
    I'm nobody, who are you?
    Are you nobody too?
    There's a pair of us, don't tell!
    They'd banish us, you know!

    How dreary to be somebody!

  7. #7
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
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    I understand exactly what you mean!
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

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    I'm glad someone does, but let me try to be more eloquent.

    Happy endings are possible as long as you are only one person. If you can transfer your consciousness from person to person, and feel the unhappiness on which you depend for your happy ending, then feeling that unhappiness ruins your happiness.

    Maybe that makes more sense. If not, maybe Kik can help.

    I just realized how Whitman-esque that is. O, the Song of Myself.
    If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft, and of thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left, sell one, and with the dole buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

  9. #9
    String Dancer Shea's Avatar
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    All the phsycology is making me a bit light-headed.

    But I would have to go with the concensus that the ending must go with the story, or the message that the writer is trying to get across. Except for 1984, sorry the romantic in me hated that ending.:o

    Many times I like those happy ending with a bit of tragedy in them to balance out the sugariness (I know, I'm making up words now, but sometimes phsycology has that effect on me). Like Les Miserables. I came away from that one feeling very satisfied.
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  10. #10
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
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    I think that what Piquant is trying to say is:

    In a good story you have a good conflict. In allmost every conflict situation, someone or somthing loses and someone or something wins. There are "win-win situations" but even in these there is a third party that suffers. No realistic conflict can come to a conclusion where EVERYONE involved and effected comes out a winner. A traditional "happy ending" usually culminates with triumph for the protagonist and defeat for the antagonist. Now, if you take a look at the antagonist's reality, his POV, you see an unhappy ending. No realistic antagonist is all evil and knows he's evil and relishes in the fact that he's evil. What makes a really good villian, or antagonist, is the fact that he/she/it thinks that he/she/it is in the right. So when the villian is faced with defeat, its an unhappy ending through the antagonist's POV.

    Am I on the right track Piquant?
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

  11. #11
    You CAN go Home Again Sindhu's Avatar
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    Hold on Kik- so when you read you internalize ALL possible POV's- making a "happy ending" impossible as it is sure to be an UNhappy ending for some protagonist or other- but then doesn't that reasoning also render an "Unhappy ending" impossible? (If I am following your train of though correctly, that is!) So we would wind up with what could be described as "variable emotive endings" depending on the POV we adopt or the consciousness we enter into during each particular reading?
    Sindhu.
    I'm nobody, who are you?
    Are you nobody too?
    There's a pair of us, don't tell!
    They'd banish us, you know!

    How dreary to be somebody!

  12. #12
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
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    No, happy endings arn't IMPOSSIBLE, because if there's a real stinker of a character, it doesn't matter what he thinks of himself. When he gets screwed in the end, it makes the reader happy. It's just kind of interesting to look at the story realistically from the antogonist POV once in a while. It can really skew the heroity (I make up my own words too ) of the protagonists. For example, check out Lord of the Rings. When Saruman joins sides with Sauron, he's not trying to be as evil as possible. He's looking out for his own skin. He's a perfect example of a protagonist who is not concieously evil. He does some evil stuff, but its not just for the sake of being bad. If you read LotR with the outlook of survival rather than of Good must triumph over evil, it makes Saruman look like the smartest character in the series, even if he does lose in the end. And when he dies, it is tragic. I for one didn't say "Yay!! Saruman got stabbed in the back by his only 'loyal' follower!" even though he did deserve to die. If you remember, Frodo didn't rejoice at his death either. Thats just one example of a well written villian, but do you see what I'm trying to communicate with that example?
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

  13. #13
    You CAN go Home Again Sindhu's Avatar
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    Got that- but as you said in your earlier post a realistic "antagonist" villain- has HIS POV, in which he is right. So, even if he is a "stinker" IF you adopt that POV, then a Happy ending is OUT- irrespective of the "unheroity"(me likes )of the character.
    Gosh- where am I going with this
    Sindhu.
    I'm nobody, who are you?
    Are you nobody too?
    There's a pair of us, don't tell!
    They'd banish us, you know!

    How dreary to be somebody!

  14. #14
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
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    I don't know. And quite frankly I forgot where I was going too. But I think it was here: Bottom line-> Including everyone's POV, happy endings are immpossible. However, an ending can satisfy a reader if he can't sympathize with a villian. Good villians should have enough of a realistic motivation that the reader CAN if not sympathize than at least understand where said villian is coming from, makeing the ending at best bittersweet. Thats good writing.
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

  15. #15
    You CAN go Home Again Sindhu's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Helena_of_verona
    We crave tragedy, just as much as we crave happiness.
    Too true!
    I'm nobody, who are you?
    Are you nobody too?
    There's a pair of us, don't tell!
    They'd banish us, you know!

    How dreary to be somebody!

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