- Alternate Character Interpretation:
- A good chunk of viewers aren't sure whether Charlotte's decision to take Tina under her wing was at least partially motivated out of a desire to see Jerry again. Of course she did see a lot of herself in Tina long before she even met the girl, so it's left open. The end however states that she only wanted to help Tina and never intended to get Jerry - so it's unknown if she always felt that way or started out as the former before becoming this.
- Jerry doesn't divorce his abusive wife Isabelle. Is it because he doesn't want to do her the dishonour of being a divorcee? Or is he afraid that he'll lose Tina and won't be able to help her if Isabelle has her fully under her control?
- Charlotte's mother falls down the stairs after an argument with her daughter. Was that a deliberate fall as a way of punishing Charlotte for rebelling?
- Fan-Preferred Couple: A chunk of the audience seem to prefer Dr Jaquith as a romantic partner for Charlotte, finding Jerry a little dull in comparison to the charming Jaquith. Bette Davis herself said that she imagined Charlotte marrying Dr Jaquith after the film ended, as Jerry was 'too weak' for Charlotte.
- Harsher in Hindsight: It wouldn't be the last time that Bette Davis played a depressed spinster called Charlotte. And her situation would be considerably less uplifting the next time around.
- Hollywood Pudgy: Charlotte, who is described as overweight, is portrayed by the svelte Bette Davis (albeit in an unflattering dress). There is mention of her losing lots of weight during her stay in the hospital, but that change is merely conveyed by swapping the unflattering dress for a fitting one. Bette Davis apparently wanted to be padded to look even heavier for the 'before' scenes, but the studio considered it too grotesque. This accounts for the numerous lines calling Charlotte's pre-makeover self fat.
- Iron Woobie: Charlotte once she's come home from her cruise faces her mother trying to suppress her into the way she was before and realising she can't be with the man she really loves. She just keeps pushing on and carves out a good life for herself.
- "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Treating adultery as sympathetic was a shocking one for a 1940s audience. It wasn't too long ago that adultery was illegal, and the Hays Code strictly said that values of the home had to be upheld. So the fact that Jerry's unhappy marriage is preventing him and Charlotte from properly getting together was a big surprise for 1940s audiences. Women who went after married men were seen as floozies and harlots - just look at the backlash that Shirley Temple and Ingrid Bergman suffered from the press when they left their husbands in real life (the latter was even denounced on the floor of the US senate). Charlotte meanwhile is a sympathetic Woobie who happens to fall for a man she can't have. So the effect has been lost through years of Good Adultery, Bad Adultery.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Charlotte's rather Brutal Honesty to Tina - "if you want people to like you, then you have to like people". It's a little said lesson but a very valuable one. Getting angry at the world for not understanding you and despising everyone just because is only going to make you more miserable. Accept kindness and friendship from someone who offers it, and you might find that things become a little easier.
- Unbuilt Trope:
- One of the earliest examples of Beautiful All Along - Charlotte loses her glasses, plucks her eyebrows, styles her hair and wears sensible clothes. It doesn't automatically improve her life and she's very uncomfortable looking glamorous. More emphasis is on her mental transformation rather than her physical.
- Likewise the movie employs Good Adultery, Bad Adultery to justify Jerry and Charlotte's affair - Jerry's wife Isabelle is an abuser who manipulated him into marrying her. Yet the lovers still don't end up together, despite this.
- Unnecessary Makeover: Some feel that Tina looks much cuter with her hair down and glasses than when She Cleans Up Nicely for the party.
- Values Dissonance:
- The biggest obstacle to Jerry and Charlotte being together is that he's already married - to an abusive woman he hates. Divorce was available in the 1940s but still seen as a shameful thing - and a big part of Jerry's character is that he employs Honor Before Reason.
- The treatment towards Abusive Parents is subject to this. After her cruise and time at Cascade, Charlotte freely returns to living with the same abuser who caused her nervous breakdown in the first place. Likewise after she finishes her therapy, it's expected that Tina will return home too. Separating the victims from their abusers permanently is never mentioned as an option.
- Jerry also kisses Charlotte while she's asleep during their night in South America. What was seen as a tender romantic moment in the 40s would nowadays be seen as a huge violation of her consent.
- Values Resonance:
- The film is very ahead of its time for depictions of mental illness in the 1940s. Charlotte's cruel mother believes it is all nonsense, and she's portrayed as ignorant and heartless for doing so. Charlotte is portrayed as a Woobie who just needs help, but still must make the effort to take control of her own life. A very telling lesson that's relevant today.
- It's also pretty feminist for a film in the 1940s. Although Charlotte needs a man's help early on, she's able to take control of her life and improve her situation entirely on her own. And she is then able to do the same for another girl in a similar situation to her. The end implies that Charlotte will use her family's wealth to ensure that Cascade gets more funding and is able to help more people. Not to mention that Charlotte puts her own romantic feelings aside so she can continue to help a child in need.
YMMV / Now, Voyager