Life Experience versus Blind Faith

     The differences between Nora Helmer and Christine Linde in Henrik Isben's 1879 A Doll's House, filmed twice in 1973, by Joseph Losey and Partick Garland respectively, is life experience and blind faith. Both women attempt to do what they feel is best for loved ones and end up with bad experiences. One wants more to care for, and the other wants nothing in her life but herself.

     Christine Linde (Delphine Seyrig/Anne Massey), who is now a widow, forced herself to marry for money. She needed to support her helpless mother and two younger brothers. Although she was in love with a man, his prospects did not seem promising at the time. She has since that time become a widow for three years with her late husband leaving her no money or children. She was forced to work anywhere she could find a job, with her hard life leaving her physically and emotionally older than her age.

     Her mother passed away, and her brothers grew up. She now feels empty and longs to be needed. Wanting something to work for has brought her to want a husband and children. Christine, who has experienced the world and lived on her own, feels wise compared to Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom). She knows what it feels like to have to depend on oneself for everything. Nora feels safe with her life and pities her. Trying to relate to Christine's unselfish behavior, she tells of the money she borrowed on her own.

     In order to take her husband (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) to Italy for his health she had to take out a bond and forge her dead father's signature. This lie comes back to haunt her in more ways than one. When her husband eventually finds out about her illegal act, her fairy-tale life crashes around her. The "wonderful thing" she pictured happening does not occur. He does not take all the blame for her to save her honor. She does not drown herself to prevent that from happening. Instead, he claims to no longer love her and happiness will be gone from their lives forever. He worries aloud that people might suspect him of the illegal act and they must stay together for appearance only. He does not stand up to the man who would blackmail them; he cowers to him. When a letter arrives with the bond Torvald exclaims--"I am saved!" Nora must ask--"Am I?"

     "Am I?" could be a question for many things in Nora's life. Is she asking the question to see if she is forgiven for making him angry, or is she asking the question to herself? Is she suddenly saved from Torvald's anger or from her mental prison she is in? This is the point when Nora wakes up from her dream. She realizes that the man she is married to is a stranger. He has loved the idea of being in love with her, not her. She has played the role of daughter, wife and mother so well she forgot about herself. She sees her life for the first time as what it really is, a doll's house. All her life someone made all the decisions and opinions. She was there to spend money and look pretty. Everything in her life is now a question. She must begin her life as if she had never lived, forming her own opinions and experiences. Money and duties are no longer important. She disowns her husband, children, and goods. Her new life must contain only her.

     The difference between Christine and Nora is their different reactions to their experiences. Christine longs for more, while Nora longs for less. Although both women never really loved their husbands or were happy, they chose different ways to deal with their disappointment--one by a hard life experience and one by a sheltered life.

Angie Butler

Table of Contents