Washington Square

by Henry James

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Was Dr. Sloper right in rejecting Morris as Catherine's husband? Would Catherine have been happier with Morris?

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Dr. Sloper was right in his analysis of Morris Townsend's character. He was right, too, is seeing that Townsend didn't really love Catherine at all. Therefore it seems likely that Dr. Sloper was right in predicting that Townsend would squander all her money and eventually leave her destitute, and furthermore that he must have been right in rejecting Townsend as a suitor. Catherine might have been happy for a short while if she and Townsend were married, but she was bound to realize that he didn't love her at all, that he had just been deceiving her outrageously. Then if their income began shrinking she wouldn't even be able to enjoy the lifestyle she had had with her father. Henry James made a big point of showing that she enjoyed spending a lot of money on new clothes. That would stop. Aunt Penniman would be asked to move out. Catherine would have a dreary life, and a lonely one because Townsend would probably be gone most of the time. It doesn't seem possible that Catherine could have been happier married to Morris Townsend, even if she never married at all.

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