For Love or Money?

         In today's society, much emphasis is put on a person's wealth. This love for money can even influence one's desire for another person. Apparently, this was common even years ago. In Washington Square, by Henry James in 1880, as well as the 1949 film, The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, money was of the utmost importance, especially to Morris Townsend.

         Young Catherine Sloper (Olivia de Havilland) came from a wealthy family. Her father (Ralph Richardson) was a doctor, and Catherine would one day become heiress to his fortune. Living a life of luxury, what more could a girl want? Catherine's case was an exception, though. Having what seemed to be everything, Catherine was lacking one very important thing-love. Dr. Sloper criticized Catherine, believing she was plain, ugly, and had nothing to offer a man. In reaction to her father's feelings, in the film, Catherine wore nothing but drab, dark-colored dresses, which only added to her simplicity. After years of being degraded by her father, Catherine had little self-esteem, so little she thought no one could ever love her.

         When Catherine had concluded that she would be alone forever, Morris Townsend, a strapping, handsome young man, came to town. In the film, he was portrayed in by Montgomery Clift in all his glory as the epitome of attractiveness. The two were introduced at a party and instantly became taken with one another. Their courtship was quick, and before too long Morris had asked Catherine to be his wife. Dr. Sloper was against the marriage from day one. Morris had no job, he was aware of Catherine's independent wealth, and Dr. Sloper just knew that this was the only reason he wanted Catherine. However, Catherine had never felt this way before about herself, or a man, and she did not want to believe that Morris' feelings were the product of greed. He made her feel beautiful and smart. She just knew this love was real!

         After Dr. Sloper was notified of his daughter's engagement, he informed Catherine that she would be disinherited if she went through with the wedding. Catherine accepted this consequence and continued to see Morris. On the night Morris and Catherine were to elope, Catherine told Morris of her father's wishes. Hours later, Morris had disappeared, leaving Catherine heartbroken in the moonlight. The look on her face, in the film, as she waited on the front steps for him was priceless. Catherine's heart truly was crushed.

         Obviously, once the money was out of the picture, Morris had no use for Catherine. He was not in love with her but instead in love with the money attached to her. What Morris neglected to realize was that Catherine and her inheritance were a complete package. He could not have one without the other.

         Not only did Morris lose his opportunity to attain a huge fortune, but he also lost his opportunity to hold the most precious jewel of all-Catherine! Love comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and tax brackets! One can live in a rickety shack and be just as happy as the couple in the elaborate mansion, as long as one has love. Let the love come first; and, if the love happens to come along with a multi-million dollar corporation attached, then I guess one hits the jackpot! One should just do not make the same mistake as Morris. One should take off one's blinders and see the real person. It might just be worth the money!

Sarah Poat

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