Catherine Sloper: 19th Century Bridget Jones

         Both the screenplay (1948), written by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, and the film version of The Heiress (1949), directed by William Wyler, left me thinking "chick flick" all out. But, it was not until I actually watched the film, based on Henry James's Washington Square (1880), that I realized exactly which "chick flick" it reminded me of. It hit me quite early on as Cathy and Morris were enjoying each other's company at the party, "This is just like Bridget Jones' Diary."

         This response will only make sense to those who are familiar with Bridget Jones' Diary, directed in 2001 by Sharon Maguire, so I shall include a rough summary before getting into my comparison. Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is a single woman in her early thirties; she is a smoker, a drinker, a loud-mouth, sharp-tongued "spinster" who is far from stereotypical perfection. She makes a New Year's resolution to herself that it is time to change and everything will turn out right for her. In her quest for making herself a better woman, she has a romantic love affair with her attractive, playboy boss (Hugh Grant). However, things do not turn out perfect in that relationship when her heart is broken after he turns to another, more attractive woman. Bridget learns that there is no need to change oneself for anyone. Women need to be proud of who they are and eventually someone will love and appreciate them "just as they are."

         That is exactly what Cathy discovers at the end of Washington Square and The Heiress. Cathy, like Bridget, says exactly what is on her mind, despite she may not always come off as ladylike or truly intelligent. Though Cathy was slightly naïve, it may have been necessary for Cathy to learn her important lesson. In the book, Cathy quietly digests what her father had told her about herself and Morris's abandonment, while in the movie, she (Olivia de Havilland) takes the harsh words of her father (Ralph Richardson) and lashes out against him. She was fed up with trying to live up to the expectations of someone else. She was determined to do whatever it was that made her happy. After Morris (Montgomery Clift) abandons her, she vows to never let another man decide what would make her happy. She has opened her eyes to the reality of the world and stood up against Morris' deception. Though Cathy possibly ends up alone, she is happy. She is her own self, and she never changes.

         Bravo Cathy! You truly are a role model for all women, including Bridget Jones.

Jessica Warren

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