Just Rewards

         Sometimes in life the good will get their reward, and the bad will get their punishment. In Henry James's 1880 Washington Square and especially in director William Wyler's 1949 film The Heiress, this is exactly what happens with the resolution of the plot.

         In Washington Square and The Heiress, Catherine Sloper (Olivia de Havilland) has been treated poorly by her father (Ralph Richardson) from the time she was a little girl and is later treated this way by the man she loves, Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift). She has tried her entire life to make the people she loves happy, but she has been treated as a slow, dull girl by the ones that should love her most of anyone in the world. Catherine attempts to please everyone to no avail, and finally in the end she gets the sweet revenge of not allowing Morris back into her life.

         This is especially true in The Heiress because, after Catherine's father has died and she is not under his rule or scrutiny any longer, Morris comes back to attempt to get her back. She plays him along and tells him to come get her at the house; but then, when he comes, she leaves him standing at the door waiting for her to come out, much like the time when he never showed up the night the couple was to elope. This revenge that Catherine gets on Morris is her just reward for all of the wrong that he has inflicted upon her!

         Morris has been a dirty sleazebag during the entire play and film! He has lied, cheated, and manipulated everyone around him to get what he had wanted out of life He has used Catherine's goodness and love for him to get the money from her that he wanted. He could have had a generous amount of money; but, when he learns that Catherine would not get inheritance from her father, he gets greedy and does not come and take her to elope. Being left at the door that night is his just reward for being such a rotten person to everyone. This play and film made so many emotions go through my head anger, pity, and a sense of revenge just to name a few.

Amanda Cope

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