Course Hero Logo

Happy Days | Study Guide

Samuel Beckett

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Happy Days Study Guide." Course Hero. 22 Mar. 2018. Web. 1 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, March 22). Happy Days Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 1, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "Happy Days Study Guide." March 22, 2018. Accessed June 1, 2023.


Course Hero, "Happy Days Study Guide," March 22, 2018, accessed June 1, 2023,

Happy Days | Quotes


I know it does not follow when two are gathered together ... that because one sees the other the other sees the one.

Winnie, Act 1

Winnie wonders if Willie, situated in his hole behind her, can see her. She asks repeatedly then comments on the nature of seeing as more than the mere visual experience. This is another instance in which Beckett plumbs human experience while attempting a refinement of words. In both cases it is a push toward primal authenticity in experience and in its expression.


Not a day goes by ... without some addition to one's knowledge however trifling, the addition I mean, provided one takes the pains.

Winnie, Act 1

Winnie is a make-do person, and in finally being able to decipher the label on her toothbrush she finds satisfaction. She chides Willie for his lack of ambition, while the poignant moment reveals her adaptability to a world that offers almost nothing.


Is it not so, Willie, that even words fail, at times? What ... to do then, until they come again? Brush and comb the hair.

Winnie, Act 1

Winnie has had a painful moment in remembering Willie's attention to her beautiful hair on their wedding day. Words fail with the pain of this memory of what has been lost, and her defense is to return to the present moment and practical habit. In this movement she affirms the notion that all is not lost. The memory—and the glory and the pain—will return.


What I find so wonderful ... not a day goes by ... —to speak in the old style— ... without some blessing ... —in disguise.

Winnie, Act 1

The blessing is the return of a memory that causes words to fail, a memory both affirming life in a better time and gesturing toward the relief of death.


There is of course the bag ... There will always be the bag ... Even when you are gone, Willie.

Winnie, Act 1

Although Winnie has insisted she cannot live without Willie as the witness to her talk, she recognizes that the bag, the practical present with all of its demands, will still be with her—both as demand and as a memory prompt. The bag was Willie's gift to her.


That is what I find so wonderful ... The way man adapts himself ... To changing conditions.

Winnie, Act 1

She is thinking about what she has earlier called natural law. Now she is thinking about perspiration and how in her youth, she perspired freely, and now she perspires less even as the heat is more intense. Adaptation is not a matter of intention.


One cannot sing just to please someone ... song must come from the heart ... pour out from the inmost, like a thrush.

Winnie, Act 1

The pervasive notion of authenticity is expressed here (in a unity of feeling and expression by Winnie) as an irrational impulse lacking in intellectual deliberation being the evocation of wholeness. Impossible perhaps, yet Winnie is as close to a thrush as a human might be.


Forgive me, Willie, sorrow keeps breaking in ... Ah well what a joy in any case to know you are there.

Winnie, Act 1

Winnie's reminiscence of happier times yields sorrow, which she resists by returning to the present time and Willie's continuing presence.


Holding up wearies the arm ... Not if one is going along ... Only if one is at rest.

Winnie, Act 1

Winnie's parasol functions here as a metaphor for stasis in life, not unlike death, in contrast to the adventures and joys of a lively mind. Willie's passivity is a model for that much-feared stasis.


I am in tongue again ... so wonderful, my two lamps, when one goes out the other burns brighter.

Winnie, Act 1

Winnie must keep talking to feel alive. As her mobility decreases, her speech, her memories, vivify her present.


No doubt you are dead, like the others ... or gone away ... it doesn't matter, you are there.

Winnie, Act 2

Believing that she is alone, and still speaking, she observes that in her speech Willie is always there. Speech is, in part, memory, and Winnie keeps Willie alive in speaking about him.


I say I used to pray ... Yes, I must confess I did.

Winnie, Act 2

This is wordplay that demonstrates how ideas or feelings operate through language when the words are specific to the context. She admits leaving the church and then uses the idea of confession secularized. Confess is a word that has lost its religious reference for Winnie and entered the secular world as the remnant of a strong feeling, perhaps guilt in leaving the church or verbal irony in the secular uses of confession.


The sadness after song ... Sadness after intimate sexual intercourse ... That is what I find so wonderful ... It wears away.

Winnie, Act 2

Winnie reflects on pleasure and its aftermath, the (only initially) unexpected sadness. The wearing away is wonderful, so that a deep joy or pleasure remains unanticipated along with the sadness—that it may not repeat—or that the wearing away brings the shadow of death to the aftermath of pleasure.


That is what I find so wonderful, a part remains, of one's classics, to help one through the day.

Winnie, Act 2

Nothing is ever truly or totally forgotten. In this example it is the solace of art that can help someone at appropriate moments.


To have been always what I am—and so changed from what I was ... I am the one ... then the other.

Winnie, Act 2

It is all a matter of time. Winnie is the one she was in the past and still is, while at present, she is also the other. She is also the other in relation to her marriage and her ambivalence: her rationalized happy days, her memories of happiness, and her torturous present.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Happy Days? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!