Jamesís Characters Live in The Heiress

†††††††† The 1947 movie The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, portrayed the characters much better than the play and made them more realistic. The movie's actors do a very good job of portraying what I thought of the characters from the 1880 book, Washington Square, written by Henry James.

††††††††Olivia de Havilland wonderfully portrays Catherine the way her character needs to come off. In the beginning, the actress effectively shows how naive and innocent she was supposed to be. She is very nervous at the party and while talking to Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift). She is even more skittish when he is singing to her at her house. As the movie progresses, one can tell she is getting more and more comfortable around Morris, as she loosens up a little bit. The best part comes after he has stood her up the night they were supposed to be married, and her father (Ralph Richardson) has told her that she is pretty much worthless. It is such a dramatic change in her. She has been a bubbly, naive, stable woman; but, after the change she seems sad, cold, and even a little scary. Her voice has become very monotone; she does not have any emotion about her; and her eyes are completely blank.

†††††††† I also thought that Miriam Hopkins, the actress playing Mrs. Penniman, does a wonderful job. She adds a little bit of fun to the story throughout the beginning. She is always pushing Catherine to talk to men and to be sociable. She would fake headaches and such in order for Catherine and Morris to be alone. She is also very good at being a motherly type the night that Morris stands Catherine up. She is there for Catherine and tries to help her through the pain when Catherine realizes that Morris is not coming for her. She is a wonderful mother figure for Catherine.

†††††††† Lastly, I think that Doctor Sloper's character is portrayed wonderfully. He is the perfect blend of being hot-headed, condescending, evil, and just plain mean to his very own daughter. He is also very subtle in the movie. He will say something mean to Catherine about her looks or wit, and it takes one a minute to realize how mean it is. He is annoyingly evil because of this.

†††††††† I thought that the movie The Heiress portrays the book with wonderful light. The characters and casting is great and fits the book and characters very well.

Allison Light

Table of Contents