Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Happy Days” as Want to Read:
Happy Days
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Happy Days

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,065 ratings  ·  154 reviews
In 'Happy Days, ' Beckett pursues his relentless search for the meaning of existence, probing the tenuous relationships that bind one person to another, and each to the universe, to time past and time present.
Paperback, 64 pages
Published January 13th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1960)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Happy Days, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,065 ratings  ·  154 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Happy Days
Steven Godin
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays-theatre
I still remember the first time I ever got to read a play, it was Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, of which I thought was only OK, not because it wasn't any good, but because I so wanted to see it performed, reading any play isn't going to be anywhere near as good as seeing it with one's own eyes up on the stage. I said to myself I will never read another play again so help me God. However, over time, I asked myself the question - realistically, how many plays am I ever going to see? I've ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics, plays
Read this and then watched the Broadway Theatre Archive production featuring Irene Worth. One of the most depressing works I have ever had the opportunity to encounter. There is much debate as to the meaning of the play - here is my interpretation: by 'grounding' ourselves into a 'happy' existence we are actually subordinating our essence...and that will ultimately destroy who we really were becoming. "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons" is the way most of us will pass from our ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Words fail, there are times when even they fail. However, speaking is Winnie's raison d'être, words keep flowing from her without conveying any meaning, just to fill the silence and the void.

Early on, it struck me as upsetting the fact that Winnie was trying so hard to convince herself that it is a happy day, the wanting to get out of the mound and the simultaneous attachment to it.

Never have I ever come across a play whose directorial instructions are as important as the play itself. I quickly
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the start of Happy Days, we see Winnie - a plump, fifty-year-old housewife of a woman – buried to her waist in the centre of a mound of earth. The sun blazes down in the form of a powerful spotlight. A barren landscape stretches into the distance. Beside Minnie on the mound are a large bag and a parasol. Throughout the play, she removes items from the bag, including a Browning automatic revolver (‘Brownie’) and a toothbrush. Halfway through the first of two short acts the parasol bursts into ...more
عماد العتيلي

“If you don't know where you are currently standing, you're dead.”

Happy days! LOL!
I like this play. I consider myself a big fan of the absurd theatre – it represents life as it is.


Winnie and her husband Willie, represented most people nowadays – sinking in their daily routines without having any purpose.

Reading the dialogue between them was a pleasure for me, I enjoyed it. I think it was simple and meaningful. I think Happy Days is more beautiful than Beckett’s most famous play Waiting for
Wow... this left me all depressed and disillusioned about life, death and everything in between!

What I like is that the play begins with a surreal and bizarre situation and this doesn't clear up. This kind of makes you imagine all kinds of reasons why and how the woman and her husband are stuck there and living like that. There is so much in this play that makes it worth to read or see!

Winnie seems swallowed by the earth, can't walk first and in act two can't move anything but her head, and
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WINNIE What would you say, Willie, speaking of your hair, them or it? (Pause.) The hair on your head, I mean. (Pause. Turning a little further) The hair on your head, Willie, what would you say speaking of the hair on your head, them or it?
Long pause.
WINNIE (turning back front, front). Oh you are going to talk to me today, this is going to be a happy day! (Pause. Joy off.) Another happy day.
Bruno Kulić
May 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
The reason for a one star rating, presented without comment:
-no pain- (looks for toothbrush)-
hardly any- (takes up toothbrush)-great
thng that- (examines handle of brush) -
nothg like it- (examines handle, reads) -
pure .. . what?-(pause) - what?- (lays
down brush)-ah yes- (turns towards bag)
-poor Wilie- (rumages in bag)-no zest
- (rummages)-for anythig-(brings out
spectacles in case)-no interest-(turs back
front) -in lie -(takes spectacles from case)
-poor dear Wilie- (lays down case) - sleep
This is a solemn comedy, Winnie and Willie are mostly buried in sand. From the moment Winnie wakes she does not stop talking, Willie contributes very little and spends most of his time not facing Winnie or listening to her. Ultimately, Winnie is alone with very little to do but keeps cheerful, as the play unfolds this cheeriness has a bitter sour to it.

I came across this play when it was first televised, it was part of the Beckett on Film project. The staging is dynamic but the drama comes from
May 17, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is bullshit.
Saw this live with a talented cast, and by that I mean one actress. Perhaps I'm one of those incompetent dilettante who is too dumb to appreciate Beckett's genius, but I can honestly say this has no redeemable qualities. None whatsoever. If you left the performance 5, 15, 25, or 35 minutes into the play, or stayed at the end, it wouldn't have made a difference. Historical and philosophical allusions aside, this is complete drivel. People like clever writers and clever plays, but
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great play. Another happy day.
John Pistelli
Nov 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Fascinating but not my favorite. Evidently Beckett regarded Winnie as a kind of earth mother spirit, indomitable, and I do find some patronizing piety or maybe just pity here, a refusal of the corrosive irony Beckett's male heroes have to endure in the midst of their own eschatological travails. The idea of the setting as a kind of post-apocalyptic degraded vacation-destination beach where the blazing bleaching sun never sets is wonderful, as is the whole mystery of the play's circumstance, ...more
" The earth is very tight today, can it be I have put on flesh, I trust not."
Moriah Russo
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
typical of his late period works, beckett stages poignant commentary on the phenomenal desperation of singular existence. there again seems to be a palpable curtain both around and among the thoughts, speech, and behaviors of the winnie--her rambling commentary seemingly falling mute after immediate realization and encountering a hopelessly unpredictable and incomprehensible audience in willie, who too seems to be playing out an absurd experience of self. winnie's self-sustaining occupations of ...more
David Allen
Jan 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
An absurdist parable about a woman who tries to find the best in her lot as her options narrow in a literal sense, buried up to her waist in sand at first and later up to her neck, her beloved husband virtually invisible and uncommunicative. A proto-feminist work (1961) and one of Beckett's most touching plays.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tiaan Lubbe
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone once told me, “You don’t fuck with Beckett.”
I agree. You don’t. You can’t.
He is irrefutably one of the great geniuses of the Twentieth century. His words have become legend. ‘Waiting for Godot’ has become the vision of an entire age. ‘Endgame’ bashes our fears of our eventual ends in our faces. Beckett’s view of life, so effectively conveyed in his sometimes painfully absurd plays and writings, is one that pulled at the heartstrings of society when they were first published and
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Happy Days presents a bleak landscape that is severed from anything like the real world. A woman, Winnie, is buried up to her waist in a mound at center stage. There is one other character, Willie, who for most of the play is hidden behind the mound, burrowing head first into it. However unrealistic this sounds there is a certain realism from her handbag that contains some of the detritus of everyday life that plays an important role for Winnie. She is a seemingly irrepressibly cheerful woman ...more
Sheldon L
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it
A very sobering tale on the meaninglessness of life! I think that it's a very deep play that really requires punctuational respect. That is, if it says "Pause", please pause! Because the emotion is only evoked if the play is read correctly or acted correctly.

I like how it really intensifies emotions of our seeming meaningless lives... i.e. when one looks back in a million years, every thing we ever did do (and when we do anything in life, we do it seriously and invest a great deal of care!) will
Ben Loory
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
this is a heartbreaking play, and probably the purest and most unsparing of beckett's visions, which is saying something. some irony in the fact that winnie is beckett's saddest character despite (because of) the fact that she is the most optimistic.

it's hard to believe an actress could actually pull this play off. it's basically a sixty page stationary monologue (winnie's buried waist- (and then neck-) deep through the whole thing, with only the contents of her bag to work with). i would pay
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Matching soundtrack :
Cheval - Igorrr
Sidharth Vardhan
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, bestest, nobel, europe
She decays into sands of time caught, struck in memories of happy days of past and the hopeless hope of a future that would resemble more to the past than the present; her hopes are of a really old bird who can no longer fly or even if it could fly it won't enjoy as much as it once did - and yet this bird looks up to skies and hopes; hopes like her too down-to-earth husband doesn't. Her surroundings like her body are just ruins of happy days of past, her hope is as depressing as her husband's ...more
Dean Italiano
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this play before, and I've had the great pleasure of seeing it in the theater years ago. I reread it because I'm thinking of writing a Beckett-ish play next (look for a Waiting for Godot review soon). I enjoyed it again.

Happy Days is a jumpy little play, which says a lot only about the dialogue as the characters don't really move, and actors have to be VERY good to carry this one. Winnie and Willie are the only two characters, Winny lives waist-deep in a hill and Willie on the mound
Apr 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never read anything by Beckett before. I do not usually dedicate that much time to reading plays, actually. What led me to Happy Days? I was looking for Tennessee Williams and Beckett was the one who showed up. Completely different styles, definitely. Thematically speaking though? Not so sure.

A reflection on the human condition, I would call it. Odd, yes, but as honest as it gets. The writing is rather frenetic, and also frenetically paused. Winnie seems to fear silence, for it is sound
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's difficult for me to give an honest review of this play, one because I've never actually seen it preformed (and plays are in no way meant to be read like this, especially Happy Days with all its stage directions interrupting the lines beyond easy readability) and two because the subject matter is a bit above my head (in the sense that it seems to focus on a long marriage, something I have no personal experience with). That said, the play is enjoyable and seems to have a firm grip on what ...more
Katie Dunn
Wow, an optimistic Beckett play!

Er...well....not too far off from that, I guess.

I didn't like this one as much as his others, but I'm not sure I can put a finger on why. Perhaps I read it poorly. I recall I felt similarly about Godot, the first time through.

It just didn't strike me in any particular way, and I could see it falling victim to overacting very easily. Not much stuck to me about it. Quite honestly, I should probably dock the star rating a bit, because I went in expecting better and
Jul 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama, irish, beckett
I imagine that Beckett's plays are an acquired taste and certainly seeing them performed elevates the re-reading experience, helps the effects and the affect to percolate. Rereading, Happy Days now, though, after reading the actress interviews in Women in Beckett, has me appreciating this play even more. Realizing that all of Beckett's embedded directions--facial expressions, for example--are not left to the actress as interpretable but are meant to be followed verbatim as Beckett scripted them ...more
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre
Since I’m usually not really fond of Beckett’s plays, I should have tried to avoid this one. However, I was obliged to read it for one of my university courses, and I have to admit that I have never struggled so much in reading a play. It is flooded by stage directions that obstruct the reading experience, and it tired me out so much. Despite its tiny length, I had to take many breaks whilst reading in order for me to concentrate on it. I’m not doubting the great messages its analysis brings to ...more
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very odd play. I does take patience and a complete alert brain to get through it. It does take a little extra research to completely understand the meanings behind the whole thing. I recommend doing some research on the different levels of dante's Hell and just some spark noting of this play. I will help.
Devon Chase
Absolutely chilling and wonderful and terrible all at the same time.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Birthday Party
  • The Chairs
  • Ubu Roi
  • Entertaining Mr. Sloane
  • The Caretaker
  • Mother Courage and Her Children
  • Blasted
  • Betrayal
  • Complete Plays
  • Miss Julie
  • The Bald Soprano and Other Plays
  • The Homecoming
  • Les Jours, Les Mois, Les Années
  • No Exit
  • Top Girls
  • Phaedra's Love
  • Candida
  • The Wild Duck
See similar books…
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in France for most of his adult life. He wrote in both English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.

Beckett is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century. Strongly influenced
“If you don't know where you are currently standing, you're dead.” 64 likes
“That is what I find so wonderful, that not a day goes by....hardly a day, without some addition to one's knowledge however trifling, the addition I mean, provided one takes the pains.” 23 likes
More quotes…