Modern society has demolished the power of the family set up as defined in most cultures and ancient communities. There are conservative members in the community who prefer cultural guidance on social justice, whereas their liberal counterparts believe in Natural Law as the best reference point for solving human conflicts. The institution of marriage has been abused by practices whereby the women end up suffering severe consequences. Margret Atwood notes that most relationships – despite the happiness and sadness experienced – end up with death as the ultimate occurrence as illustrated in her narration of “Happy Endings”.
Margret Atwood illustrates different scenarios which have a common eventuality in the sense that all the involved characters end up dying. “Happy Endings” commences with a scenario in which John and Mary seem to have a perfect life. Both live within the guidelines for marriage and the family unit provided by culture. However, the second scenario illustrates a difficult marriage life for Mary where her worth as a woman is devalued by John who mistreats her (Shevchuk 103). This scenario describes a social struggle in which women fight for equal recognition with their male counterparts. This resembles a case in India where women aged between 10 and 50 years — guided by cultural beliefs — were prohibited from visiting the temple as their monthly periods were considered a bad omen in the community
It is evident that Margret Atwood is conscious of modern human activities and their relationship in terms of humanity. In her perception in “Happy Endings”, women should be as respected as men when it comes to decisions that affect them directly. In Scenario A, Margaret Atwood presents a perfect family setup which goes by the human values of wedding and marriage (Shevchuk 104). However, Scenario B presents the exact opposite perception of courtship and marriage in which John keeps on abusing Mary, both sexually and mentally. It is important to note that most cultural practices in ancient communities degraded women in any decision-making process. This, in turn, forced the women to allow the oppression against them from men as a means of fitting into the cultural values of a community.
“Happy Endings” presents one with two probable avenues of life with a common destination in death. Marriage is an important institution which should be respected at all costs including sacrificing one’s pleasures to fulfill the social duties of being parents and companions. Parenthood is a dreaded responsibility in the modern American community and other contemporary societies such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Margaret Atwood communicates — in an indirect tone — on the importance of respecting basic human rights in a relationship of marriage (Shevchuk 105). Scenario B describes the distinct consequences of choosing an uninformed cultural practice that oppresses other people based on gender, when it has been proven that both men and women have equal intellectual abilities as men.
Death is an unfortunate event which ends most relationships in sorrow and grief. However, the same death might be considered a relief to an oppressed individual as Margaret Atwood notes in her narration of relationship scenarios. Marget Atwood illustrates how happy relationships can lead to successful marriages as well as how a difficult relationship can relieve an oppressed victim. As an individual, it is important to remember that modern times require gender equality for a community to move forward in a progressive and united direction. For instance, Germany and the UK are governed by female political leaders who have assumed power based on constitutional success rather than their gender. The struggle for gender equality should be all-inclusive if modern society aims at achieving social peace.
Shevchuk, I. “Literary analysis: imagery, character analysis, plot, and setting form and tone of the short story Happy endings” by Margaret Atwood. “Youth and Market 7 (2016): 102- 105.