When is enough, enough? And how far should one go with revenge. The Catherine from the 1880 book Washington Square, by Henry James, and the movie The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, had different views on these questions. Growing up, Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) was very sheltered and was always put down by her father (Ralph Richardson). She could never seem to live up to her mother's presence.
Catherine had fallen head over heels for this man, Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift),whom she could barely talk to. She was such a shy character that so many times her romanticizing Aunt Lavinia Pennimen (Miriam Hopkins) would speak and rendezvous with her lad. I believe that her aunt was as much intrigued with him as much as Catherine.
I was disappointed that Catherine did not see through this man's thoughts and that she did not release him from her mind when she was over in Europe with her father. She was not completely to blame; the only person she surrounded herself with was her Aunt Lavinia, who only talked about how great this man was and how happy he would make her.
I enjoyed her character in the movie more than I did in the book. In the book she seemed more restrained. I felt almost embarrassed for her that she showed her emotions by begging for him to stay at the doorway. I had wished she would have been stronger and realized that this man was not in it for love but for her money. I think the Catherine in the movie lucked out because she did not tell Morris personally; therefore, she did not make a fool of herself as she did in the book. I think in both the book and the movie one is are really drawn to the character and one felt her heart breaking.
I was really impressed with the way in which the author developed Catherine into such a strong woman. She did not allow Morris to ruin her whole life. She became quite the quaint person around town in the book and quite the aunt in the movie. I was extremely excited and rooting for Catherine in the movie at the end because, unlike her counterpart in the book. She got the revenge that she wanted, an eye-for-an-eye motive.