I get a lot of teasing/criticism/grief from many friends and family about the fact that I need to have a happy ending to the books, and movies that I read or watch. I am going to try to explain why this is the case, but be aware, there may be some spoilers in this as I use examples, so if you see a title of a book or movie that you haven’t seen or read, and you don’t want to have the ending ruined for you, jump ahead.
I read for entertainment. I watch movies also for entertainment. Therefore, if there is a sad or depressing ending to the story, I am not entertained. For some reason, I am wired to take these stories more personally. That is why at the end of a great book, I am sad to say “good-bye” to the friends I feel I have made while reading them. But when the ending is sad, I feel I have not been entertained, instead I feel that I have wasted my time in reading or watching this particular story because I am depressed for a couple of days afterward. I like to analyze and dissect the stories. For example, in my last blog on “Our Mutual Friend” I mentioned how I didn’t really like “Great Expectations”. That is because of the ending, no other reason. I loved the rest of the story up to the very end. I felt like I had been left dangling in the fate of Pip and Estella. All Dickens had to do was to end the book with them getting together, both learning an important lesson and beginning their new life together, wiser people, not to make the same mistakes again. Instead we don’t know if they might get together eventually or not.
Now many friends point out to me the fact that in my all time favorite classic novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, they think the ending is sad because Edmond and Mercedes do not end up together.
But my argument is that it does have a happy ending because after getting the justice (yes, I said justice, not revenge) for the wrongs done to him after so many years, Edmond is once again ready to fall in love with Haydee who is devoted to him. He could never have loved Mercedes as he did as a young man after so long and her betrayal by marrying Fernand Mondego. I think this ending is perfect! However, Hollywood and the BBC have failed to follow the book in ANY adaptation.
I feel I am also a realist in that I know life is not all perfect. I can go through a lot of heartache in a story as long as the ending is happy or optimistic. Let me use “Gone With the Wind” as an example. I liked this book and the movie, however, I didn’t feel like Scarlett learned anything from her mistakes and at the end, she was the same spoiled girl she was at the beginning. I would have been fine with her not ending up with Rhett Butler, had she learned how to treat people, not to use them to her advantage. It would have been a more satisfying experience if she was a better person at the end but she wasn’t.
Another example is “Follow the River”. The whole book was full of the trial and hardships of Mary Ingles, who was kidnapped by Shawnee Indians along with her 2 sons. It took her months of every kind of hardship you could imagine including losing her newborn and 2 sons before she made it back to her husband. I loved this story! I don’t think I could read it again knowing what I would have to go through again with her, but I still loved this book!
Jane Austen, Sharon Kay Penman, and Agatha Christie, three of my favorites!
I hope I have made my point as to why I love to have happy endings. I could give many more examples. I know the authors I can count on for happy endings, and if I read a new author, YES, I read the ending first, to make sure it will end happy so I do not waste my time on something I know I will be unhappy with when I am done. What do you think?