'Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.'
'The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.'
-An excerpt from the play script "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde.
Every reader has a different opinion on how they feel stories should end. Some people are just suckers for happy endings.
What does a happy ending necessarily mean, though?
Does it mean that the underdog triumphs and gets the guy/girl?
That peace is brought to the land and the fairies have a tea party?
The oppressed finally "stick it to the man?"
...and they all live happily ever after.
Can everyone and everything end on a happy note, however? Not every ounce of conflict held in the pages can be resolved by the end, surely! Not every story is a fairy tale and even fairy tales can be dark and do not always end happily.
Miss Prism says that the good end happily and the bad end unhappily. Is that true or is it as Cecily says?
'I suppose so. But it does seem very unfair.'
I also think it isn't fair. I don't write characters who are represented as "good" or "evil" and I don't particularly like to read about them either. There are characters I know who are interpreted or seen as evil but that doesn't necessarily mean that they blatantly are.
I'm inclined to want to read "satisfying endings" which I'll admit sometimes means I am a sucker for a happy one. What it usually means, though, is that I am pleased with the outcome.
The story might end on a sour note but the message is strong and impacting.
Maybe the hero doesn't get the guy/girl but gains a valuable experience and learns to live life in a different way.
Perhaps peace isn't brought to the land but there is a smaller, personal - and still just as powerful - triumph.
How do you believe stories should end? How do you want them to end?
Are you a sucker for happy endings or are you content with a satisfying one?