This film has stuck with me ever since I saw it a few months ago and in my opinion, everyone paints Freddie as the bad guy and feels sorry for Hester. I’ve never heard anyone who has my take on this so I’ve finally decided to put fingers to keys and write my thoughts down.
Let’s start with the usual argument for why Freddie is so awful to Hester. Freddie was a pilot in WW2, he lost a lot of his friends and as a result, is stuck in immaturity and/or is deeply damaged and after watching so many good men lose their lives, so he simply can’t handle a woman who would try to commit suicide just because he forgot her birthday.
Yes, he is damaged. Yes, he is immature. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Forgetting someone’s birthday is a shitty thing to do and reason for a massive fight or a breakup. It is not a good reason to kill oneself.
The real issue in this film, for me, is that because Hester has so little in her life, Freddie has become her whole life. As such, his one forgetful moment is enough to send her into a huge, if short lived, depression, out of which comes her suicide attempt, which Freddie simply can’t forgive her for.
Now that’s not her fault either but rather the result of the unfair societal/gender norms that everyone lived under at that time.
A really nice analysis of Freddie and Hester, I enjoyed reading it!
In the original play Hester did have other things in her life, she had painting as a hobby. At the end of the play, when asked what she will do, she says she has her painting, and if I remember it correctly she says/implies she wants to make it more of a career. The removal of this in the film, although it accentuated the total consumption of her life by Freddie, does make her seem a little more helpless, and option-less, than she appears in the play. Freddie is also slightly different in the script. I would recommend it to read (and see it on stage if you get the opportunity, although I have not seen it on stage).