Happy Endings

by

Margaret Atwood

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Madge Character Analysis

First introduced in scenario B, Madge is the woman John is seeing on the side instead of Mary. While ostensibly a different character than Mary, Atwood implies that the two characters are so similar that they are able to be swapped into one another’s stories with only slight changes. In scenario C, after her husband John commits suicide, Madge marries a man named Fred and things continue on as in scenario A. In scenario D, Madge and Fred must deal with a tidal wave disrupting their typical happy ending. In scenario E, Atwood further complicates the ending by introducing elements such as cancer and heart disease. Throughout the various iterations of her story, Madge is presented as another two-dimensional stock character, virtually indistinguishable from Mary.

Madge Quotes in Happy Endings

The Happy Endings quotes below are all either spoken by Madge or refer to Madge. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Virago edition of Happy Endings published in 2001.
Happy Endings Quotes

John tells Mary how important she is to him, but of course he can’t leave his wife because a commitment is a commitment. He goes on about this more than is necessary and Mary finds it boring, but older men can keep it up longer so on the whole she has a fairly good time.

Related Characters: Mary, John, Madge, James
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

Yes, but Fred has a bad heart. The rest of the story is about how kind and understanding they both are until Fred dies. Then Madge devotes herself to charity work until the end of A. If you like, it can be “Madge,” “cancer,” “guilty and confused,” and “bird watching.”

Related Characters: Madge, Fred
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Happy Endings LitChart as a printable PDF.
Happy Endings PDF

Madge Character Timeline in Happy Endings

The timeline below shows where the character Madge appears in Happy Endings. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Happy Endings
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Relationships and Marriage Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Through her friends, Mary learns that John has been seeing another woman, Madge. Mary is most affronted that John has been taking the other woman out to dinner,... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Relationships and Marriage Theme Icon
Storytelling Tropes Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
After Mary’s suicide, John marries Madge, the other woman he was seeing. The story then states that everything “continues as in... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Relationships and Marriage Theme Icon
Storytelling Tropes Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
...is overcome with rage and despair, and kills them both before committing suicide. His wife, Madge, subsequently marries a man named Fred and proceeds on to the happy ending described in... (full context)
Relationships and Marriage Theme Icon
Storytelling Tropes Theme Icon
In scenario D, Fred and Madge are happily married, but must deal with a tidal wave swamping the town in which... (full context)
Relationships and Marriage Theme Icon
Storytelling Tropes Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
In scenario E, Fred and Madge suffer illnesses such as heart disease or cancer, and the story details the ways in... (full context)