Finding Meaning In Margaret Atwood's Happy Endings

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It is a sad reality of human relationships that fairy-tale endings are only found in fairy-tales. The true complexity of relationships between men and women is full of heartache and disappointment. Thought-provoking works of literature can help us to come to terms with this reality by showing us possibilities and helping us to recognize them. In Margaret Atwood's "Happy Endings," the relationship between John and Mary is shown to have many possible outcomes. The story ends with the message that no matter what the two characters choose, their story will have the same ending, which is death. This complexity of male/ female relationships is also demonstrated in Kate Chopin's “The Story of an Hour," between Mr. and Mrs. Mallard. These two short…show more content…
When Mrs. Mallard is informed of her husband’s death, at first she feels devastated and overcome. “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms.” However, after she retires to her room and begins to reflect on Mr. Mallard’s death, she feels stirrings of conflicting emotions. Although she remembers that “And yet she had loved him—sometimes,” her main emotion seems to be relief. "Free! Body and soul free! she kept whispering.” Mrs. Mallard goes on to consider all of the happiness that will now be hers, “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.” When suddenly Mr. Mallard returns and she realizes that the announcement of his death was a mistake, she is so shocked that she falls over dead. The doctor determines that Mrs. Mallard was killed by joy, but the reader knows that she was so disappointed to see her freedom ending with her husband’s return that she died of a broken

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