Keep It Interesting

         I really enjoyed both Henry James's 1880 Washington Square and the 1949 movie The Heiress, based on the 1948 play by Ruth and Augustus Goetz and directed by William Wyler. From my viewpoint, I found the corresponding novel, play, and movie all to be closely related with one another. Just with any other literary work that has been reproduced into a different literary form, there were some differences that were obvious,however.

         Of course, just as seen in Wuthering Heights screenplay, book, and movie, the ending was distinctly different. In Washington Square, Morris comes back to take Catherine away; however, she would not go; and with this he peacefully leaves her forever. That is not the case in the play or the movie. Here he (Montgomery Clift)comes back to take her away; she (Olivia de Havilland) deceitfully agrees; yet, when he returns later on that night, she locks him out, marches up the stairs, carrying her torch with much pride, and leaves him yelling and begging for her to elope with him.

         Another major difference, if one were paying attention, between the novel and the play is Dr. Sloper and Mrs. Montgomery's visit to discuss Morris. In the novel, Dr. Sloper sends a note to inform he is going to visit Mrs. Montgomery at her house, and he continues with his plan of doing so. In contrast to this in The Heiress, both the play and the movie, Dr. Sloper (Ralph Richardson) sends word of invitation to his home to Mrs. Montgomery (Betty Linley). Mrs. Montgomery agrees to his invitation and visits Dr. Sloper. During her visit she is questioned about Morris and his beliefs, morals, etc.; and she also gets the opportunity to meet Catherine. Mrs. Montgomery is definitely more open about telling Dr. Sloper not to allow his daughter to marry Morris in the play than in the book or play as I view it.

         One last distinct difference that I am going to point out is that of Catherine's behavior and poise in the literary forms. In the novel, Catherine acts like much of a lady, never raising her voice or getting so desperate in trying times. However, in the screenplay and the movie, she is much more aggressive in what she says and does. Moreover, she stands up for herself when she needs to, when she just sits back and takes hits in the novel.

         Even though I have discussed only a few contrasting ideas between the three literary forms, there were many more comparisons as I saw it between the three. I did enjoy this piece of literature in all of its forms, and I think that the differences keep things interesting. Because one is not being presented with the same thing three times over, one is instead introduced to differences which make it all more interesting, which makes one think.

Christina Coursey

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