Is Honesty Really the Best Policy?

         Honesty is the best policy. In general, or actually, in all areas of my life this is something that I live by. Sure, sometimes it may seem that at the time it might be more rewarding to not tell the truth, or be honest about a situation--but in the long run, I have found, that it is always beneficial to be honest. I believe that this concept applies to all situations. Now, as we apply this to the 1948 play The Heiress, by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, filmed in 1949 by William Wyler, and based on Henry James's 1880 Washington Square, it would seem that this is just not the case. This is where I ask the question: is it better to be naïve about all the situations in your life or to know the real truth and be miserable and bitter for the rest of your life?

         On the surface it would seem that Catherine (played by Olivia de Havilland) would have been much happier to have remained naïve about the love of her father and the love of Morris (depicted by Montgomery Clift). Catherine spent her entire childhood and early adulthood being belittled and to some extent, verbally abused by her father. However, she still thought that he loved her. Ever since Catherine's mother passed away, her father constantly compared Catherine to her. Catherine would never live up to her mother's beauty or poise. When Morris came along and wanted to marry Catherine, her father prohibited it because he could see that Morris simply wanted to marry Catherine for her inheritance. Catherine was oblivious to this and truly believed that Morris loved her, until it was proved otherwise.

         Now, would it have been better for Catherine's father to let her marry Morris and for her to really keep believing that both men I her life really did love her? Perhaps it would have been. It seems that she would not have ended up a bitter old lady in the end if that would have happened. However, I think that the reason Catherine ended up the way she did was from her own doing. After realizing the reality of what her father really thought of her and that Morris was more than likely not after her, but her money, Catherine became bitter. She held on to resentment and anger and bitterness. Instead of forgiving the men in her life (although I realize it would not have been easy), she held on to these feelings and ultimately let them ruin her life.

         So, in the end, I still hold to my original statement, that honesty is the best policy. It is always right and always beneficial in the long run to be honest about everything. It is what you do with that truth and how you react to it that ultimately determines your character and how you live your life.

Brittany Binkley

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