For the Love of Money

         There is a central issue that plagues individuals the world over; that is blind to race, sex and religious background. This is an issue that can both destroy as well as create homes. This issue finds many asking the question: should I marry for love or money?

         It is a well-known cliché that the love of money is the root of all evil and that the Bible says that love is one of the fruits of the spirit. But can the fusion of these simultaneous issues still create evil if there is love? In both film and literature, there are numerous stories that deal with the issue of marrying for love or money. The 1880 Henry James novel, Washington Square, along with its 1949 film adaptation The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, deals with this issue that is plaguing our society, even more so today. The story is of a wealthy young woman Catherine (Olivia de Havilland), who is to inherit a fortune and because of this, is courted by a young man Morris (Montgomery Clift), who hopes to lay claim to it.

         The attention that Catherine receives from Morris is liberating as she is constantly under the criticism of her father Dr. Austin Sloper (Ralph Richardson) since he does not think much of her. He does, however, begin to notice the advances of Morris on his daughter and figures out that Morris only wants Catherine to achieve great wealth through marrying a rich woman. Morris is no worse than most of the materialistic men in society, but his only difference is that he is not as good as Catherine thinks that he is. When Catherine's father decides to disinherit her if she chooses to marry Morris, Morris decides to leave; and Catherine starts to realize that he was really about the money.

         Catherine's character is based on quiet determination, which means that she could either collapse or grow. Catherine chooses to grow and starts to see the world for what it really is; fully of people that will use and abuse for money. Catherine realizes the importance of getting to know someone before thinking about marriage. In doing so, she would learn a little more about one's intentions. Catherine almost makes the mistake of marrying Morris, who has been only interested in her money. Catherine's awareness and maturity is seen throughout the book, especially when Morris comes back and she does not take him in.

         Though money is something that is needed in life for survival, it can, however, bring about pain and suffering. For Catherine and many wealthy people, they have the task of trying to figure out the real from the fake as money comes with a lot of power. So to answer the question of whether or not one should marry for money, the answer is no. Though money might bring a big house, lots of suitors and food on the table, it does not, however, bring happiness or love. In contrast, it destroys love as the unsuspecting victim with all the money often gets hurt when he or she find out that the love of his or her life loves the money, not the person. Catherine almost fell into the trap that Morris set for her, but her learning through opening her eyes, helped to fish her out.

Chantal Curtis

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