Catherine's Folly

     Is it just I, or does Catherine seem to be a bit foolish in her judgment of character? Sure by book's end, as well as film's end, she finally stands up to her father as well as blows Morris off, but it just seems it took her way too long. Once again, I am not the most dedicated romance novel's enthusiast. The 1880 novel Washington Square written by Henry James could be considered an exception to the rule no romance.

     From the beginning we, at least I, figure out that Morris is merely a rat after Catherine's inheritance. Thank goodness for characters of Dr. Sloper's caliber. However, it would have been interesting to see how Catherine handled herself and her inheritance after the marriage with Morris. Would their situation not be a common soap opera theme?

     The film, directed in 1949 by William Wyler, also did an outstanding job of portraying the characters from the novel. Except for one exception, that would be Catherine s character. I really expected Catherine to be some grotesque women. During the film, with a little makeup, she. as depicted by Olivia de Havilland, was rather attractive. Despite this apparent flaw in character, one could still pick up on the fact of Morris (Montgomery Clift) being interested only in Catherine s inheritance.

     That is why I am so appreciative of characters such as Dr. Sloper (Ralph Richardson on screen). He really saw Morris for what he was and was not afraid of giving his opinion of him to anyone. The only thing he lacked was a baseball bat or some other blunt object to strike Morris over the head. If most fathers were to come home only to find their office sorted through, they would be out for blood. On this occasion, Dr. Sloper held himself together in too much of an adequate manner. It would have made the film for Dr. Sloper to have arrived from Europe only to find Morris relaxed in his office puffing on a fat, Cuban stogie; Dr. Sloper then in a refined manner cracks him over the head, thereby eliminating the possibility of a marriage between his daughter and Morris.

     Both the novel and film were exceptional. When comparing the film and novel, I found it was neck and neck. But I would have to go with the film.

Erin Eagleson

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