The Heiress : Hateful Father - SPOILER

Hateful Father - SPOILER

I haven't waded thru the 4 pages of posters' comments on this, but..

Is it possible that father's dislike of Catherine is simply that father's great love - his wife - died during Catherine's birth?

This was 1840s-quality practice of medicine after all. And to make it even worse, Dad is a physician.

E pluribus unum

Re: Hateful Father - SPOILER

I don't believe Dr. Sloper had any "great love" for his wife, only shallow idealization.

My theory (I don't think it's a stretch) is that Mrs. Sloper got pregnant on their wedding night, meaning she and Dr. Sloper were married less than a year when Catherine was born and Mrs. Sloper died. They never had years to spend together, they never got over the "honeymoon phase". They never had time to annoy each other with their quirks and bad habits, or endure the boring, unpleasant side of marriage, such as arguing over finances or how Catherine was being raised.

Mrs. Sloper is only a goddess in Dr. Sloper's mind because she died at the height of her youth and beauty. On top of that, she was accomplished in all the conventional talents back then (music, sparkling conversationalist at parties). I think she was definitely a trophy wife to Dr. Sloper; you'll notice he never talks about her personality or love for him, but her beauty, "grace and gaiety". I find it doubtful he'd still love her if she'd had the opportunity to get old. He'd no doubt talk smack about her at parties, griping about how she's "no longer a woman" (I hate that expression!).

But I'm being unfair, because one must wonder what Mrs. Sloper would have thought of her husband over time had she lived? What would she think of him growing old, faded, and predictable? What if she'd come to see him for the nasty, condescending, passive aggressive man he really was (assuming she wasn't a nasty person herself)? What if she saw how little he thought of poor Catherine? Heck, what if she decided she tired of parties and the piano, and decided to take up embroidery with her daughter?

I am positive that any love between Dr. and Mrs. Sloper would have disintegrated like wet cotton candy over time. Idealization between two people who weren't together very long doesn't mean very much to me, which is why I've always been indifferent to the romance in "Titanic".

Re: Hateful Father - SPOILER

You have given this complicated story a good interpretation, lauraeileen.

The movie is based on a Henry James novel, which I never read. Have you read it? Dr. Sloper's behavior in the movie was arrogant and insulting toward many other people. He was not a fun guy to be around.

E pluribus unum

Re: Hateful Father - SPOILER

lauraeileen, I think you are right in thinking that Dr. Sloper is only idealizing a memory.

I think that someone with his personality can only see how they are reflected in others, because they only care about themselves.

And it makes me wonder how Catherine's life would have been different if her mother had lived.

We don't know (in the film, at least -- I don't know about the book) if Mrs. Sloper was also shallow, or would have been as warm and present a mother as was expected in that time and social stratum.

Perhaps Mom and Dr. S. would have kept one another busy all the time, making the social rounds and being charming, and Catherine would have had more time with attentive, kind, nannies and governesses (or ones as mean as her father, or as air-headed as her aunt!).

Maybe Catherine would have been more confident, maybe she would have been made into even more of a mess!

Re: Hateful Father - SPOILER

lauraeileen, I think you are right in thinking that Dr. Sloper is only idealizing a memory.

Yep. In fact his sister called him on that flat-out.


Nothing to see here, move along.

Re: Hateful Father - SPOILER

his sister called him on that flat-out.
You are right, of course; his sister said he was expecting too much but I think you missed the point of that conversation. I there there are two to consider.

1. Sloper started by wondering if there was another Arthur in town; clearly he meant for his daughter. His sister told him he acted as if Catherine would never find a husband. He said he was just being realistic.

He had given her the best education and training, he had tried to engage her in conversation almost every evening, and he clearly bought her lovely things but it was to no avail. His attempts to prepare her for life fell flat.

It's not unusual for people to compare a child to a parent. They do it to point out how similar they are or how unexpectedly different. For Sloper, his must have been a lonely existence. He had a daughter but she couldn't carry on a conversation to save her life. He knew that probably meant his home would never be filled with the patter of grandchildren's feet and he would likely not have a son-in-law he might bond with either. The life he knew with boring Catherine was all there'd ever be for him. That is sad because she was his only hope.

2. Sloper's love for his wife probably caused him to see her as more than she actually was. He put her up on a pedestal after he lost her so soon. That's not unusual, being in love can do that to someone. He loved but was in love with his daughter so he could see her as she really was. His mistake was probably in not noticing that Morris might have really loved Catherine. As such, he probably saw her as Sloper had seen his wife; as better than she really was.

The sisters had a different point of view than their brother. Lavinia was a true romantic; always talking about her dearly departed husband as if he was almost perfect. They had had a happy life together. Elizabeth was more realistic. She could see her husband's flaws but they managed to make a good life together; having a child and a happy home. Neither sister seemed to mind that someone might pursue Catherine for her wealth; it was an asset. Lavinia saw that Catherine loved Morris and wanted her to be happy. Elizabeth thought he might make a good husband who cared for her. There were things he could give her, like love and children, that were not dependent on money or a great job. As a parent, Sloper wanted the best of the best for his child. Parents don't always see or care about the intense feelings their child might share with their intended. They know love can fade so they want to make sure the child is not making a serious mistake.

As I've said in other posts, the perspective from which we see this movie makes all the difference. As in life, how we see things; the way we interpret the very same events, depends on where we stand.

Woman, man! That's the way it should be Tarzan. [Tarzan and his mate]

Re: Hateful Father - SPOILER

Whether his memories of his late wife are based in reality or not, Catherine's life at the expense of her mother's is undoubtedly a cause of his dislike for her. In one scene (conversing with his sister, Liz) he actually spells it out, something along the lines of "I lost that incredible woman, and got that graceless thing in return."

Please put some dashes above your sig line so I won't think it's part of your dumb post.