In the 1949 movie, The Heiress, the idea that if one expects too much from people, one will always be disappointed, is suggested by Mrs. Montgomery. In the fictional lives of four characters discussed in this essay, each determines that life is disappointing in part because most people have relatively limited control over their situations. This is true of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ibsen's Nora Helmer, Sophocles' Oedipus, and the film's Catherine Sloper.
In The Heiress (1949), Catherine Sloper is disappointed first by the abandonment she experiences when her fiancé, Morris Townsend, makes her aware of her vulnerability. She is equally disappointed when Townsend returns and claims that he loves her and wants nothing more than to marry her. Catherine recognizes that she has disappointed her father and that she has expected Townsend to be honest. Instead, he is merely a man seeking a wealthy wife. She vows never to be hurt again.
In Hamlet, Shakespeare (1952) creates a character who recognizes that he has expected too much from his mother, a woman who went from her husband's funeral to a new marriage bed. Hamlet also learns that his father's death was the result of his uncle's murderous act and that he is not able to act decisively to avenge that murder. As described by Shakespeare (1952), Hamlet has lost both father and mother, seen his inheritance taken away from him, and ultimately lost the woman he loved.
In Ibsen's (1962) A Doll's House, Nora Helmer is disappointed because she realizes that her husband, Torvald, is a hypocrite, a bully, and a pretentious man with impossibly high standards. Nora has dedicated herself to both her father and her husband, but she recognizes ultimately that in doing so she has denied her own dreams and her need to be a free and independent person. Her entire life as a daughter, wife, and mother is a disappointment to her and it is only by escaping her mar