Study Guide

Happy Days Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Samuel Beckett

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Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage

Another Happy Day (Or Is It?)

Winnie begins the play thinking about the future. In fact, all her actions point toward the anticipation of the "happy day" that's to come. She grooms herself, takes her "vitamins," and has an overall cheery disposition even though she's buried in a mound of sand. Talk about wishful thinking. The routine helps Winnie focus on what's to come, which at this point of the play is thought to be something positive and wonderful. In other words, Winnie still has "mounds" of hope.

Dream Stage

The Toothbrush Puzzle

In this stage of the play, we see Winnie committed to a course of action. Her goal? To successfully read the entire inscription on the side of the toothbrush and, as a result, ensure she has another happy (successful) day. Her determination to read the toothbrush gives Winnie a purpose, and as futile and meaningless as it sounds, a purpose is still a purpose. Every word she deciphers on the toothbrush gives Winnie a boost to her confidence and happiness level. Winnie finds the "addition to one's knowledge however trifling" absolutely, positively "wonderful" (1.7).

Frustration Stage

Is It Hot in Here?

Things begin to take a turn for the worse (as if buried in a mound of sand isn't bad enough) when Winnie's parasol suddenly bursts into flames, Willie disappears for longer and longer periods, and Winnie recounts the traumatic story of Mr. and Mrs. Shower (or is it Cooker?). It seems like she is slowly coming around to the idea that life's just the same old drudgery day after day. In Winnie's world, life is as stale as a four-year-old biscuit.

Nightmare Stage

Up to My Neck in Oblivion

Things are seriously getting out of control. Up to her neck in sand, Winnie is limited to the most basic range of movements and slowly coming to terms with the impossibility of her situation. Not only has she become more and more forgetful, she is also unable to finish her thoughts or take succor from her bag or prayer. To make matters worse, she's also hearing noises and, oh yeah, that bell just won't stop ringing. It's almost like she's being tortured.

In this stage, it's plain to see Winnie's getting more and more upset about her circumstances. It's clear that the odds are stacked against her and Winnie's positivity takes a major beating. It almost seems as if the mound itself is closing in on Winnie.

Destruction Stage

Not with a Bang but a Whimper

The play ends with a big question mark. Even though Winnie (finally) sings her song, which under normal circumstances counts as a triumph, we can't entirely be sure if her song is a love song or a swan song. We can also safely assume, if things keep going the way they're going, that if there were a third act, Winnie would be completely covered by the mound. It seems like no matter what, Winnie's destined to be a goner, either by the forces of nature or her homicidal husband.

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