What a Difference an Ending Can Make!

     The end of books and movies are always the most important aspect of the whole project. William Wyler's The Heiress, 1949 movie adaptation of the Henry James 1880 novel Washington Square, shows that the difference in an ending can do with everything from a better response from the audience to a hatred of a character.

     Washington Square was set in a place that seems completely unreal to me. The way the upper-class people of the novel were one of two things: cunning or naive, and this seemed to be as recurring theme through the book. These themes really seemed to shape the ending of the novel. Shown with the right motivation, almost anyone can leave the stage of being naive and become cunning. Catherine was the end result of this. Catherine was blunt and was quite rude to Morris, her former fiancé, who had jilted her, upon his return some years later. However, earlier in her life she would be very nice and probably taken him back in.

     The Heiress, on the other hand, had a completely different angle to the ending; yet I enjoyed it just as much. The movie's ending showed Catherine's powerful resolve to be rid of Morris (Montgomery Clift) once and for all. For in the novel many years had passed, and Morris had aged poorly; yet in the movie, only a few years had passed in the movie, so that Morris still had his looks and charms. Therefore, when she turned him down in the movie, it showed that she had become quite cunning. This showed that Catherine had gained those cunning instincts that her father once had.

     Both endings show that the intelligence of the Catherine character had grown greatly and that she was no longer naive as she was in her youth. She easily saw through what Morris was past and present. I believe that this showed the power of the character in both versions yet for different reason and conveyed it well. This proved my point that development of a character for better or worst can help an ending.

Aaron Brame

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