Study Guide

Happy Days Philosophical Viewpoints: "The Absurd"

By Samuel Beckett

Philosophical Viewpoints: "The Absurd"

WINNIE

What then? Winnie! What is the alternative? What is the al— (1.7)

Winnie realizes the ridiculous framework of the world she lives in and considers the way out: suicide.

WINNIE

Ah well, natural laws, natural laws, I suppose it's like everything else, it all depends on the creature you happen to be. (1.29)

What natural laws is Winnie referring to? After all, it doesn't seem like there's anything natural about the place they're in. And according to absurdists, there aren't any laws. The world is a chaotic, meaningless place in which humans have to live whether they like it or not

WINNIE

Ah earth you old extinguisher. (1.31)

Devoid of hope and meaning, Albert Camus would say Winnie is "confessing" the pointlessness of life. Camus would say the next step of this "confession" is suicide. This might make you think twice about the ending of the play.

WINNIE

On the other hand, did I ever know a temperate time? No. I speak of temperate and torrid times, they are empty words (1.31)

The very emptiness of her words suggests that nothing helps to counteract the hopelessness of her existence. Very absurd (and bleak).

WINNIE

Would I had let you sleep on (1.7)

Ah, sleep, the great comforter. Maybe that's Willie trick, he gets by in life by avoiding the absurdity of the situation. He chooses not to wake up and see the world for the meaningless, irrational place it is. But does that mean that Winnie sees the truth, the absurdity of it all?

WINNIE

Strange feeling. Strange feeling that someone is looking at me. I am clear, then dim, then gone, then dim again, then clear again, and so on, back and forth, in and out of someone's eye. (1.31)

Is the "someone" that Winnie refers to an acknowledgement of a higher power at work? If so, what does it say about her philosophical viewpoint? How does it match up with the absurdist belief that there is no God?

WINNIE

Shower—Shower —does the name mean anything—to you, Willie—evoke any reality, I mean— (1.31)

What does Winnie mean by "evoking" a reality? It could mean that she's recreating her memories because real life is just too hard to deal with. The mind is a powerful thing.

WINNIE

Do you think the earth has lost its atmosphere, Willie? (2.1)

What a crazy idea, huh? However, this is a possibility that could fit in well with the absurdist nature of life. It could also mean that Winnie is finally acknowledging the absurdity of her situation.

WINNIE

Ah yes, things have their life, that is what I always say, things have a life. (2.1)

We all have objects and keepsakes that mean a lot to us, but how much do we mean to them? It could be argued that our possessions, and the world we live in, mean more to us than we mean to them.

WINNIE

Every touch of fingers
Tells me what I know,
Says for you,
It's true, it's true,
You love me so! (2.4)

Does love exist in a meaningless universe? We sure hope so.

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