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Happy Days

Samuel Beckett
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Characters

Willie

Characters Willie

Willie is everything Winnie is not. He is silent, speaking only when she irritates him enough with her requests for him to do so, or when he reads out the headlines of his newspaper, which he apparently started doing after they married. He is brutish, blowing his nose loudly and croaking out the tune to Winnie's music box. He is sexually minded, holding a dirty postcard among his few possessions and laughing at the word "formication." If Winnie is stuck between the past and future, Willie is rooted firmly in the past. His newspaper connects him to the outside world, and is either an old edition, or recurs as the same one each day, and the headlines he reads are either about death or, more frequently, about job openings for youths. When he craws out of his hole headfirst each day, it is as if he is being reborn, but this is an ironic image, since he is aging as much as Winnie is, his crawling worse than it once was. His position low to the ground, too, counters Winnie's upright position and her sensation of being "sucked up." However, they do not complement each, except for in Willie's final crawl. "Dressed to kill," as Beckett's stage directions read, Willie does seem outfitted for a funeral, and he displays his only moment of vulnerability when he whispers "Win." Through this line, Winnie does "win," as she gains the love she desires. But it may only be temporary, as she and Willie stare at each other without smiling through a long pause that ends the play, and we do not know if Willie has changed permanently, or if, as the play's static rituals suggest, he will revert back to his normal attitude the next day.