The Similarities of Olivia de Havillandís Roles in Gone with the Wind and The Heiress

†††††††† Many actors have played roles that are similar to ones that they have played before. Harrison Ford is usually the bad-boy action hero, while Hugh Grant is usually the goofy but lovable "Average Joe" that gets the girl in the end. Before these two Hollywood A-listers were playing characters that were mirror images, Olivia de Havilland perfected the art of playing similar characters.

†††††††† Olivia de Havilland is probably best known for her portrayal of the naïve Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind, directed in 1939 by Victor Fleming. She played a very similar character, Catherine Sloper, in The Heiress, directed in 1949 by William Wyler and based on Henry James's 1880 Washington Square. The two characters had much more in common than simply being figures in classic literature. Their personalities were much the same.

†††††††† Both Melanie and Catherine wanted to believe that there was good in everyone. While no one else liked the self-centered Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), Melanie loved her and always treated her kindly. No one really liked Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift) either, but Catherine was very nice to him in The Heiress. These two characters trusted their self-serving friends and stuck up for them whenever they heard anyone say anything bad about them.

†††††††† Melanie and Catherine were made fun of for their Pollyanna attitudes. Scarlett continually laughed about Melanie behind her back, while Catherine's father (Ralph Richardson) was constantly annoyed by her. Nevertheless, both women had impeccable moral character and were well thought of by their peers.

†††††††† Catherine was deceived by the infamous rake Morris Townsend, who had promised to marry her and then left her because she might not have all the money that he had been expecting. Melanie was deceived by the selfish Southern beauty, Scarlett O'Hara, who pretended to like Melanie, but was really trying to steal Ashley, Melanie's husband (Leslie Howard).

†††††††† Despite all of their Pollyanna qualities, both Catherine and Melanie showed strength and courage that their nemeses had never dreamed they had. Catherine locked Morris outside the house and refused to take him back, while he had mistakenly thought that she would welcome him back with open arms. Melanie was better able to survive after the war than Scarlett was, especially when she was having her baby. Both Catherine and Melanie turned out to be stronger than those that opposed them, and both ended up with what their respective nemesis wants. Catherine kept all her money in the movie, and Melanie kept Ashley. Both stories are lessons about survival and show that one should not underestimate someone who seems weak but who is really very strong.

Brittiany Adams

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