Study Guide

Happy Days Time

By Samuel Beckett

Time

WINNIE

World without end Amen. Begin, Winnie. Begin your day, Winnie. (1.1)

That's ironic, since the environmental circumstances (i.e., the constant blaring sun) never give us a sense of the day finishing. And where's night for that matter? The moon never shows its face at any point in the play.

WINNIE

—ah well—seen enough—I suppose—by now... (1.1)

What does the "now" mean when nothing ever changes and time doesn't pass? We wonder if Winnie is even aware that time hasn't moved on.

WINNIE

On, Winnie. (1.1)

Given the static nature of Winnie's movement and the lack of events that change, how are we expected to grasp the idea of continuation of movement? In fact, Winnie never actually moves. She is a living, breathing example of the pause button.

WINNIE

That is what I find so wonderful, that not a day goes by—to speak in the old style—hardly a day... (1.7)

If Winnie realizes that "not a day goes by," does that mean Winnie actually recognizes that time has stopped?

WINNIE

Another happy day. (1.9)

For Winnie, sleeping equals time moving forward. But does sleep have anything to do with the way in which Winnie classifies "a day"? How can there be day if there isn't any night?

WINNIE

The day is now well advanced. (1.29)

How does she know this? There are no shadows to suggest the sun has moved through the sky. We wonder what time she thinks it is… Also, "well advanced" could mean that, because of the time warp, the idea of a day is much too complicated to even think about.

WINNIE

Left, with hours still to run, before the bell for sleep, and nothing more to say, nothing more to do, that the days go by, certain days go by, quite by, the bell goes, and little or nothing said, little or nothing done. (1.31)

Ah, the pressure to fill time—to drive on, but what do you do when you have nothing to fill your day? And where does that pressure come from?

WINNIE

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

Is Winnie acknowledging that she may not even have "a past"? To speak of time is apparently an empty exercise—is it because time doesn't exist in Winnie's universe? If so, what are the implications of a timeless world?

WINNIE

Sometimes all is over, for the day, all done, all said... and the day not over, far from over... (1.31)

There seems to be a pull between wanting time to last and wanting time to pass—it seems like Winnie and Willie live in an in-between state, where nothing is ever good enough. We think that if Winnie were able to live in the moment, she would be a lot happier instead of panicking about the future and longing for the past.

WINNIE

If the mind were to go. It won't of course. Not quite. Not mine. Not now. (2.1)

What if Winnie's mind's left and forgotten to leave a note? How would that change the way she thinks of time?

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