Catherine's Revenge

     In both The Heiress (1948), by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, and Washington Square (1880), by Henry James, Catherine is treated terribly by Morris. The Heiress, both play and 1949 movie, directed by William Wyler, though, gives Catherine her revenge at the end of the movie.

     In Washington Square, Morris leaves Catherine to live her life in pain. Catherine, however, never manages to get revenge on Morris. After she had to deal with the grief of being left for many years, Morris returns to her. In her youth she was naive and did not realize that he was only after her money. When he returns, though, she has matured and understands what Morris is truly after. Although she has the opportunity to make Morris feel the same pain that she once felt, she does not show any anger towards him. She simply tells him that she no longer wishes to see him. Catherine had come upon the perfect opportunity to get some kind of retribution but decides to let him go unharmed.

     Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) in The Heiress, however, receives the opportunity for vengeance which she so rightly deserves. When Morris (Montgomery Clift) returns after his long absence, Catherine finds the perfect way to make him feel how she once did. Upon Morris' arrival at her house, Catherine tells him that they should marry at once. He goes off to find a carriage, completely unsuspecting of what will happen. When he returns, he finds that Catherine has left him the same way that he had left her many years ago. After a lifetime of suffering, Catherine pays back Morris for what he has done to her.

     Although Catherine is mistreated in both versions of the story, she retaliates only in The Heiress. The fact that Catherine does to Morris exactly what he has done to her makes the play and movie a much more enjoyable version. This revenge gives a sense of completion where the lack of revenge leaves the ending of the book open and not fulfilling .

Grant Apanowicz

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