She’s Come Undone

         Just as her namesake in Emily Brontė's 1847 Wuthering Heights, and William Wyler's 1939 movie, Catherine, in the Henry James's 1880 book Washington Square and the 1949 movie The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, was represented differently. Catherine's behavior was very different in the book and the movie.

         In the book, Catherine was very sweet and innocent, and she was able to take stuff from her father. Her father would make subdued comments in the book that Catherine would just let slide by her. She would never say a hateful word to him. However, the reader could tell that she was getting the point that her father was not so partial to her. He never once told her that he did not care for her; but he did not have to; his comments were enough. Nevertheless, Catherine still proceeded to be nice and polite to her father and everyone else in the book.

         On the other hand, Catherine, as portrayed by Olivia de Havilland, was much different in the movie. At the beginning, she was the sweet, innocent girl just as she was in the book. However, as the movie went on, Catherine 's behavior changed as well. Once she and her father (Ralph Richardson) have some words about Morris (Montgomery Clift), Catherine becomes extremely hateful from that point on just to Dr. Sloper but in general. In fact, she is so downright hateful to her father at times that she reminds me so much of him. I never thought that she would stoop to the cruelty of her father. At one point, she even makes a comment to her Aunt Lavinia (Miriam Hopkins) about having learned her hatefulness from two masters, Dr. Sloper and Morris Townsend. Hence, she is hateful to Morris as well. She leads him on when he returns to marry her, and then she leaves him out to dry when he pounds on the locked door after she has promised to elope with him.

         Even though Catherine stands up for herself in the movie, I thought it could have been represented in a different way. I thought the movie could have shown her confidence in a way where she was still loving and caring, as she was in the book. By the end of the movie, she was not the nice, caring Catherine from the book or the beginning of the movie.

Miranda Robinson

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