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Muhammad Faisal

Professor Ditch

English 113A

1 April 2018

Happiness Concealed within Oneself

Acquiring happiness from internal peace is precisely one of the leading themes portrayed

to the audience in the novel "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann

Shaffer and Annie Barrows through the life of its two prominent protagonists Elizabeth Mckenna

and Juliet Ashton. They both faced numerous problems in their lives, due to that they both had to

make sacrifices risking everything in their life, but despite that, they both were able to obtain

happiness.

Juliet is one of the other main characters in the novel. Initially, she is not happy at all,

even though she has all the luxuries, comforts, her home, her city, prosperity, wealth, fame, and

admirers. Further elaborating, that Juliet is successful in her career in journalism; she is the

author of the book "Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War." "I've just received Izzy's sales figures from

London and the Home Counties - they are excellent. Again, congratulations!" (5). This extraction

proves that her article in Izzy was earning enormous profits in a letter written to Juliet by Sidney

on 10th January 1946. Even after numerous accomplishments, she is not happy. However, she

decided to go to Guernsey Island leaving behind her success mainly when she was at her peak in

her career which is evident in this quotation "I no longer want to write this book - my

head………It relieves my conscience over the debacle of my Anne Bronte biography. My thanks

for everything and Love, Juliet" (3-4) in "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"

novel.
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Her decision of choosing what she feels right for her, helped her achieve happiness in her

life despite her external factors living in a developed city and urban area like London, achieving

great success and establishment of her journalism career. Her love life was also progressing well

as she received a marriage proposal from a rich "tall and handsome, with a crooked smile and a

chiselled jaw" (117) American editor, named Markham Reynolds. Her relationship is superficial,

and internally she does not love Reynolds, but she is just with him for the strategic materialistic

purpose is evident from her ironic joke to Reynolds "Are you certain you wouldn't rather be

married to someone more tractable?" (115). This statement indicates that Juliet is herself

doubtful regarding her relationship with Reynolds. Despite her successful writing career, she felt

something incomplete and a factor that was missing from her life which became a

hindrance to her inner contentment.

Juliet also made a sacrifice of all her achievements, all that she had, all her possessions

and chose happiness. In the end, she followed her heart and her happiness which her intuition

told her that lies in the Guernsey island and with the people of "The Guernsey Literary and

Potato Peel Pie Society." Without even thinking for a minute before sacrificing her prosperity

that was achieved by her due to the Izzy Bickerstaff column. She chose to take a risk by starting

from zero without knowing the consequences. Unaware of being able to obtain the same amount

of success in a new career venture, leaving everything behind is not a hard decision. On the

contrary, Juliet made efforts and took the decision to do those things in her life that make her

happy.

As a result, she found her inner peace and happiness in her life. In the form of real love

with Mr. Dawsey Adams, along with a deep and profound emotional connection with the people

of Guernsey Island, developing a sense of belonging to a community, friends, and society
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proving that people can achieve happiness internally rather than externally. Becca Martin in the

article "Is Happiness Really Attainable Or Is It Just An Illusion?" state that "Happiness is

determined by internal factors but we put all of our hope into external factors to achieve it."

Elaborating that for happiness internal factors are crucial, but then again human beings fail to

realize it and continue to seek happiness in meaningless things and outside circumstances.

Elizabeth is happy because she does not give much importance to adverse events

occurring in her life and her surroundings instead she always followed her heart even when

negative externalities arise in her life. For instance, the occupation of her country and fellow

countrymen by the German occupation, war, chaos, and unrest. She is still happy, cheerful and

possesses a happy-go-lucky nature as she gets into an affair with the German soldier who

occupied her country even though the Islander did not approve of it. Despite the objection and

criticism of Islanders against her; she did not refrain from giving hope and courage to her people

in bad times fulfilling her responsibilities towards her people, and nation.

Additionally, it seemed like that Elizabeth liked her freedom a lot from everything

explained above, we can reach up to conclusion that she is the kind of woman who will not come

under any pressure from German occupants or even man in general. Especially in a man

dominated era and conservative period of 1946 which is infamous for depriving women of equal

rights and freedom despite that Elizabeth would go with rude men, do as she pleased and made

her life decisions free of her will. We can find the evidence to support the statement in the novel

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" that "No household chores, no gloves, no

shoes, no stockings. Going out on fishing boats with rude men. Spying on decent people through

her telescope. A disgrace" (59). For instance, when the home of Elizabeth which was Guernsey

Island invaded by German occupants, her level of happiness was still the same. She was not at all
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affected by this unfortunate occupation. She was always happy, and even her personality

remained the same. The answer is because despite her external environments being bad, her

source of happiness was internal which lead to her being utterly unaffected. As in the article

"The Sources of Happiness" His Holiness the Dalai Lama supports the claim that "happiness is a

determined more by one's state of mind than by external events" (22). Further explaining, that

contentment is self-attainable rather than external events occurring in the life of every individual.

However, they both acquired happiness in their life because they took action for it and

did something to be happy. Instead of being depressed and not exerting any effort to live their

life the way they wanted. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the extract "ALL ABOUT FLOW

AND POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY" states that "happiness takes a committed effort to be

manifested. After the baseline set point, there is a percentage of happiness that every individual

has the responsibility to take control of." Further elaborating, that individuals should not ignore

the relevance of happiness and make some efforts to discover our inner concealment which is

ready to come out of our shell but needs a little push.

In fact, I learned that an individual can achieve satisfaction within themselves through the

power of their internal source. For instance, the Germans were able to capture and imprison

Elizabeth's physical body, yet they failed to detain the free spirit possessed by her. As even in all

worst scenarios she only did what she felt was right until her last drop and her open mind is the

main component that helped her achieve merriment. Similarly, Juliet had everything a person

could ask for in the world, but she just found her inner-contentment when she moved to the

Guernsey Island and formed a deep bond with the locals of that Island, by sympathizing and

emotionally connecting with them in their worst conditions due to the German occupation. As in

the article "The Alchemy of Suffering," Ricard states that "Sense of fulfillment is found on inner
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peace" (39). Further elaborating, that happiness and self-satisfaction are concealed within every

individual once they achieve inner peace.

From the articles in pursuing happiness, and the life experiences of Elizabeth and Juliet, I

got an opportunity to learn how to be truly happy. I realized that I was seeking contentment in

external factors and materialistic possessions, which is the wrongest place to find happiness.

Therefore, in my perspective happiness is self-attainable but we need to play our part to reach up

to that level of complacency by caring about the things we want to do in life which will fulfill

our state of fulfillment.
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Works Cited

Martin, Becca. "Is Happiness Really Attainable Or Is It Just An Illusion?" Thought Catalog,

Thought Catalog, 28 Apr. 2017, thoughtcatalog.com/becca-martin/2017/04/is-happiness-

truly-attainable-or-is-it-just-an-illusion/.

"Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: All About Flow & Positive Psychology ( PDF)." Positive Psychology

Program - Your One-Stop PP Resource!, 13 Mar. 2017,

positivepsychologyprogram.com/mihaly-csikszentmihalyi-father-of-flow/.

Lama, Dalai, and Howard Cutler. "The Sources of Happiness." Pursuing Happiness: A Bedford

Spotlight Reader, edited by Matthew Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford/St.

Martin's, 2015, pp. 21-32.

Ricard, Matthieu. "The Alchemy of Suffering." Pursuing Happiness: A Bedford Spotlight

Reader, edited by Matthew Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2015,

pp. 34-41.

Shaffer, M. and Barrows, A. (n.d.). The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.