A Doll's Triangle

         In Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland, we find an interesting triangular relationship between Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom), Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) and Dr. Rank (Trevor Howard/Ralph Richardson). It is through Nora's relationship with Dr. Rank that we are able to see that she is something more than a "doll." Had it not been for being able to see the story from his perspective, Nora's leaving would have came as a total surprise to us as well as Torvald because we would have only been able to see her the way that he sees her.

         In Nora, we at first see barely more than a doll. She has been psychologically oppressed by her father and society, who believed she was not capable of doing anything on her own. This oppression was passed into the hands of Torvald when they were married. She never gets the respect she deserves from her husband, who really does treat her as a doll. She is given little responsibility, and almost none of what she does have is mental. Also it seems that she is given an allowance and treated like a child with her likes of the candy she loves so much. She has never been allowed to carry any of the psychological load, which I am sure, hurt her immensely, but she has proved she is capable.

         Torvald is barely more than a product of his situation. At this time only women (such as Mrs. Linde, played by Delphine Seyrig/Anna Massey ) worked. Widows or women with husbands were not able to. He really treats Nora as a doll; he never once talks to her like a real person until the third act. He parades her around and made her do her little pretty song and dance for everyone. It was very interesting to see his reaction after finding out her deal with the bank. He is so overwhelmed by it that he does not even see that she has done something very good or that she is even capable of something like this because to him, she is just a doll.

         Dr. Rank is able to draw the story closer because he not only gives Torvald someone to pal around with, but in the doc Nora finds a friend and a confidant. He's not blind to Nora's capacity as a human being, and he encourages her by being the only person to treat her as something other than a doll. His perspective is a necessity to this story.

         Although Nora and Torvald are the main characters, Dr. Rank rounds out the situation perfectly. It would be hard to tell this story from only Nora or Torvald. Most all stories need a Dr. Rank.

Jon Jones

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