“Heavens What Are They Up To!”

The Lustful Gaze in Beckett’s Happy Days

In: Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui
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  • 1 California State University Los AngelesCollege of Arts and Letters, USA, Los Angeles, California
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In Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, the protagonist Winnie recalls being gawked at by an offensive passerby. Despite the pain she endures from this crude fellow whose looking represents the patriarchal gaze, the aging Winnie seeks attention from her husband and the audience. In her need for attention, that is to-be-looked-at, Winnie reveals that she is not meek. She fondly recollects men from her past and with pleasure looks at a pornographic postcard she takes from her partner, Willie. Beckett’s play complicates the patriarchal gaze with its exploration of the female gaze—a gaze that reveals Winnie’s desire for sexual intimacy.

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