The qualified happy ending.
When I asked my former directing teacher what he felt was particularly challenging for his students, he said that they’re all convinced that everything should work out in the end. They’re pretty sure all will be well. I was one of his students once and I remember feeling this way. I was keen on unqualified happy endings. I liked a good clean wedding at the end of a comedy. All’s well that ends well.
Except even All’s Well The Ends Well doesn’t really end WELL.
There’s some evidence that as humans, we judge the quality of something by how it ends. We imagine we’d want a shorter life that ended well rather than a longer one with a terrible one. We judge the quality of a life by its final moments. Which is a bit silly – because very few people’s final years are their best – and very few people end with unqualified happiness.
So this one – this assurance that all MAY be well – well, that seems like a more useful idea. We don’t have to be entirely pessimistic and face down in nothing but darkness but we don’t have to pretend there’s no darkness either.
All MAY be well or it may not.
It’s the mature happy ending.