Set in 1850 among the aristocracy of New York, Washington Square examines the inhibitions of Catherine Sloper (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the only child of wealthy Dr. Austin Sloper (Albert Finney). Catherine is clumsy and shy and something of an embarrassment to her high-class father. Dr. Sloper still unconsciously resents the child because her birth caused the death of his wife. He also disapproves of Catherine's attraction to Morris Townsend (Ben Chaplin), warning her that the handsome young man is after her money. He takes Catherine to Europe and warns her to break off her relationship with Morris, but she defies him. Townsend proposes, and Catherine accepts despite her father's threats to disinherit her if she marries him.