While I’m talking about happy endings and trends in what is considered good writing, let’s talk about Restoration England (cuz why not?). It’s a period when people preferred happy endings – to the point where they re-wrote Shakespeare’s tragedies to have them.
Let me say that again: they re-wrote Shakespeare’s tragedies to have happy endings.
Granted, years of strict Puritan laws might’ve had something to do with this trend; however, Restoration writers considered Shakespeare’s plays stale and banal. Oh, some of his comic dialogue was ok, but his tragedies did not further the art like the new comedies of manners (the innovation of the time period). So the plays were re-written not only to please audiences but also to make the pieces more like what was considered great writing at the time.
I guess they thought unhappy endings were too predictable (let me guess – everybody dies, right?).
This reminds me of how today many of the superhero comics are being re-envisioned as dark and gritty. How long it will be until the trends reverse again?