The 1949 movie of The Heiress gave me a clear image of an unloved and lonely woman. Just reading about her loss in Henry James's 1880 book, Washington Square, and Ruth and Augustus Goetz's 1948 play, The Heiress, did not show me the true impact Catherine had received until I watched her, as played by Olivia de Havilland, in the movie. I felt very sorry for all her losses. Her father (Ralph Richardson) had succeeded in turning her into a strong woman, but this had cost her a lot.
When looking for romance these days, some people believe they will never find "Mr. Right." Catherine thought she had him in Morris (Montgomery Clift), but then she lost him after a short period of time. She felt that he was the only person in the world who could ever love her. For once in her life someone had adored her until she was rejected again. She had felt this rejection before when she realized that her father did not love the way a parent should. In her eyes there was no one left who could give her comfort or the love she needed, and now she was destined to live alone for eternity.
I believe Dr. Sloper is completely to blame for Catherine's sadness. Yes, he was trying to look out for her future, but it was in more of a professional way instead of a caring one. He was more concerned with the money matters when he could have been helping her to find a suitable man that would have cared for her completely and honestly. One's parents should be one's support system. They should build one up and be proud of one. Most of all they should love one no matter what faults one may have, or what faults they may think one has. Her father could not show his affection for her, nor could he help to bring any of her talents out. In the book Washington Square, Dr. Sloper basically told his sister Mrs. Almond that he had an ugly duckling for a child. Since he knew that her chances of marrying were few, why did he not do something to help? The movie was very successful in showing how harsh Dr. Sloper was to his daughter and how she suffered from it.
Catherine was right when she said that no one had loved her. When she realized she was on her own, she knew that she had to be strong and fend for herself. The book's ending does not show a very strong side of Catherine. The movie, on the other hand, shows just how strong she was when she locked Morris out and strode away from him up the stairs, carrying her lamp in triumph.