The Price of Love

         Imagine losing your life either emotionally or literally because your parents do not see past the exterior of the person you love. In The Heiress and Romeo and Juliet, this plot seems persistent.

         As a young man who is in a serious relationship, I could not imagine what it would be like to sneak around with my significant other so we could be together. In the 1949 film The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, based on the 1880 novel Washington Square, written by Henry James, Catherine Sloper (Olivia de Havilland) is a shy, plain girl who attracts the attention of Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift). This love affair does not go over well with Catherine's father, Dr. Sloper (Ralph Richardson), who is upset to find that his daughter is seeing a man whom he does not see as fit for her.

         In The Heiress, Dr. Sloper denies Catherine the right to make her own decision about her love for Morris. He tells Catherine that if she were to marry Morris, he would rewrite his will and leave her out of it. Instead the money would go to the clinic where Dr. Sloper practices medicine.

         In the 1591 play Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet are two young lovers forced to keep their love behind closed doors because of the ongoing quarrel between their families. The Capulets decide on a husband named Paris for Juliet; and, when she refuses to marry the man she does not love, she runs away to Friar Lawrence. It is here that he gives her a potion that will make her seem dead to everyone. She takes the potion that night and is found "dead" in bed the next morning. Friar Lawrence rushes her to the family vault.

         Romeo's servant tells him that Juliet is dead, and Romeo rushes to the vault. At this same time, Friar Lawrence discovers that Romeo is unaware that Juliet is not really dead, and hurries to make it to the vault before Romeo does. Romeo arrives at the vault, kills Paris and carries his body into the vault. He sees Juliet lying on the table, drinks a potion he bought, and dies while kissing her. Friar Lawrence arrives just as Juliet wakes up but cannot coax Juliet to come out. She grabs Romeo's dagger from his dead body and takes her life.

         The price of love can be a dangerous one at that. Catherine and Juliet both lose their lives in one way or another. Juliet actually takes her life because her true love is dead. One could say that Catherine also loses her life. She does not stop breathing, but it might as well been so. She never finds true love, she never amounts to anything greater than embroidering those stupid patterns in the den, and she is never happy after Morris left the night they had planned to marry.

Ryan Peabody

Table of Contents