Becoming More than a Doll

     A Doll's House, a play written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879, shocked the world when his play was first performed. The 1973 movie, directed by Joseph Losey and which stars Jane Fonda, probably did not shock audiences as the play did when it was first released. However, the movie probably made people look at the role of women in the house once again. Jane Fonda's acting of Nora trapped in a desolate marriage in the freezing snow of Norway captures Nora's need to find herself.

     Jane Fonda played a housewife named Nora, who is married to a man named Helmer Torvald (portrayed by David Warner). Torvald is a man who had just got a promotion at the bank in which he works. This new coming in his life affects not only him and his family but also the antagonist of the play, Nils Krogstad (depicted by Edward Fox). Nils also works at the bank with Torvald but is on his way out because of his overly familiar attitude towards Torvald.

     What Torvald does not know, though, is that Nils is a person who can break everything that Torvald has. Nora had gone to Nils and borrowed money some time ago to save Torvald out of love because he had an illness that would have killed him if he had stayed in the cold of Norway instead of going south to Italy. However, due to the law that had forced Nora to have a male cosign the loan, Nora had had to forge her dead father's signature to prevent Torvald from knowing the truth. Nora has been paying him off. However, knowing that he is going to lose his job, Nils tells Nora to make sure that he does not lose it. Nils threatens Nora that he will come clean about their money situation they have between them. This would be a complete embarrassment to Torvald because he is the man in the family and the future manager of the bank.

     Through all the dealing with Nils and trying to keep Torvald from knowing what is going on, Nora discovers something; herself. She discovers how Torvald views her. Nora is a complete subordinate to Torvald: she is his wife responsible for only raising the children. Nils is not the only antagonist of the play. Torvald also becomes one with each uttering of the words of "precious singing bird." He puts her into her place each time he talks to her. Nora discovers in the end what the love between them really is. For her it becomes nonexistent. When Torvald does find out what was happening behind his back, he tells her that she is not fit to raise their children. When Nora realizes what she is to him, she decides to begin her life by leaving Torvald and her children. She decides that there is more than being man's subordinate.

     Even though the movie was made well after the play was written, it was well acted, especially by Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda was Nora and did very well as the woman who ends up on top of her life after realizing that, if she stays with her husband, all she will ever be is a wife. She will not be someone who is respected and can be trusted the way she deserves to be. Filming the movie on location made the desolate story with Nora even more believable with the desolate snow everywhere. Nora knows she was better than what she had done for herself and has decided she was going to try her hand at her life.

Allison Nall

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