Is it just me, or do eucatastrophic*, Hollywood or happy endings always seem like we are wrapping things up in a tiny little bow. I know there is a time and a place for this but I’ve found that life is not neatly wrapped up, so why do it in books or movies. I’m a big fan of noir and books like Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina & Frankenstein, so maybe my opinion is biased. But I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (especially in the aspect of movie adaptations changing the ending to make the story come together) and while I think there are many decent books with a happy ending (To Kill a Mockingbird, Shipping News or The Lord of the Rings) they just don’t sit well with me.
So why do I prefer a book with a more realistic ending? Apart from the fact that I like dark/gothic imagery, I think the fact that a book that ends on a less than happy note often has a more lasting effect on the reader, giving the reader something to ponder, talk about and even make them feel more superior than the protagonist. Sure, happy endings leave their audiences happy; if only for a little while. For a lot of people, happiness is hard to come by and they like to escape at any chance. I think my major issue with happy endings is this simple fact; happy endings tend to be too predictable, and I like to be thrown off guard with an unexpected twist or plot turn.
I know there is a time and a place for a happy, sad or realistic ending. I would like to know what you think in regards to the advantages and disadvantages of happy endings.
*Eucatastrophe is a term coined by J. R. R. Tolkien which refers to the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which result in the protagonist’s well-being.