Prince Charming?

     All little girls dream of growing up one day and finding their prince charming. They dream of finding the perfect man to sweep them off their feet. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it does not. Sometimes these fairy tale romances last, and sometimes they do not.

     The 1949 movie, The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, and based on Henry James's 1880 Washington Square, reminded me of one of my favorite childhood stories, "Cinderella." In The Heiress, Catherine Sloper, portrayed by Olivia de Havilland, was less than proper. She was not graceful. She was not beautiful. She was shy and backward. Her father, Dr. Sloper depicted by Ralph Richardson, reminded her often. Once he told her all she could do was embroider. He enlisted the help of her Aunt Lavina, played by Mariam Hopkins, to help teach her to be proper.

     Catherine attended a party, where she acted nervous and was anxiously awaiting someone to ask her to dance. Finally, her prince charming, Morris Townsend, portrayed by Montgomery Clift, asked her to dance. He did not care that she was not proper. He helped her learn things such as dancing. They began a relationship. He seemed to love her regardless of what she was like.

     Cinderella was much like Catherine, but it was her stepmother and stepsisters who held her back. She never had an opportunity to learn to be proper because she was always cooking and cleaning for her stepmother and stepsisters.

     On the night of the ball, to which Cinderella was not invited, a fairy godmother came and helped Cinderella. She got all dressed up for the ball and was beautiful. There she met her Prince Charming.

     This is the point at which Catherine and Cinderella differ. Catherine's father did not like her prince charming. He knew what this "prince" was up too. He only wanted her for her money. When she told him she would not be receiving her inheritance, he left to pack his things for their wedding and did not return. Cinderella's prince found her and they lived happily ever after.

     Sometimes our dreams are shattered by our prince charming. But I believe the old saying goes, "It is better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all."

Renée Lax

Table of Contents