The men in Catherine's life could be described in one word…BASTARDS! There was not one good thing that Dr. Sloper or Morris Townsend ever did for Catherine during her life. They only made her life a living nightmare in both Henry James's 1880 Washington Square and William Wyler's 1949 The Heiress.
Some people might disagree with me when I say that Dr. Sloper (Ralph Richardson) never did anything for Catherine (Olivia de Havilland). Yes he did provide a lavish lifestyle for her and did want her to become a lovely lady, but the abuse he handed out to her was no excuse. He treated his own daughter absolutely horribly. He name-called her, said that no man would ever love her, and was just down right rude to her half the time.
Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift) was another man in Catherine's life that she could have done without. He manipulated her into believing that he loved her and wanted to marry her someday. He toyed with her emotions, and that is one thing that a man should not do, especially to someone as vulnerable as Catherine was. Morris Townsend was the first man who had ever remotely shown an interest in Catherine, so of course she fell head over heals in love with him. Morris loved having Catherine fooled!
Poor Catherine would have been much better had she never had these two men in her life. Ultimately from birth, Catherine was doomed to a life of misery with Dr. Sloper as her father. I really felt for Catherine during both the book and movie when she was being treated so badly by these men.
Catherine had no good father figure in her life to show her how she needed to be treated by a man, and I believed that this played a part in her falling for Morris so easily. Had she had a decent father in her life, she might have been able to see right through what Morris was doing to her, and she could have saved herself from being emotionally hurt. I blame Dr. Sloper for the life of misery that Catherine will now have to lead after being hurt so badly by Morris and also by her own father.