Perhaps the only thing in fiction more appealing than a hopeless, dystopian disaster is a happy ending. The kind of ending that wraps up all the loose ends and satisfies even the most obsessive of readers. Last week I pondered the appeal of apocalyptic dystopia; today it’s time to take a hard look at ‘happily ever after’ and why it never seems to grow old.
Admit it, you feel good when a Jane Austen novel ends with a wedding. Through the trials and tribulations, knowing that the young lady protagonists will find love, satisfy their parents’ ambitions, and fulfill their society’s destiny in one grand finale rings true. In real life happily ever after might not last through the honeymoon—let alone the honeymoon phase of the relationship—so our desire for the happy conclusions that fiction offers is extra sweet. Still, I’m flummoxed by the HUGE gap between the happily ever after ending and the doom & gloom of disaster. It feels like we, as readers and consumers of fiction, want our books, movies & TV shows to rocket us from one extreme to the other.
Is a hint of disaster in the pretty picture too threatening?
Is a glimmer of happiness too disturbing in the midst of an apocalypse?
I don’t think so, but I’m curious about how & why we want to read stories that are positioned on one end or the other of the continuum. Is it because real life is always closer to the dull center?
Thoughts? Ideas? Please share them here.