Nora’s Breakthrough

         In the 1973 film A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey and based on Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, Nora is initially portrayed by Jane Fonda as a weak, naïve girl. Although Nora's father is not in the movie, except in the very beginning, when he is dying, Nora's husband, Torvald (David Warner) often refers to him and his control over Nora. It is suggested that Nora went from her controlling father to her controlling husband.

         The movie opens up with Nora eating macaroons and then lying to Torvald about it. He treats her as a child, not even allowing her to eat macaroons. She then acts like a rebellious child when she hides them in the piano and lies to him.

         Torvald does not let Nora have any control at all at the house. She cannot even check her own mail until he unlocks the letter box. For her to get any money of her own, she must beg and do cute little tricks for Torvald. This is another example of her acting like and being treated like a child.

         Nora's true rebellion came when she borrowed the money from Krogstad (Edward Fox) to save her husband's life because she feared Torvald would never agree to do so. She knew what she was doing was wrong when she forged her dead father's signature. Her intentions, though, outweighed her rebellion. When Nora tells (Christine (Delphine Seyrig) why she borrowed the money, Nora is seen as a little more responsible.

         Nora is seen as even more responsible when the viewers learn that she has been paying her debt secretly for years. She no longer seems like a naïve child, but like a woman who can take care of things without her husband even knowing.

         Nora's naivety is fully lost the night Torvald receives Krogstad's letter. When Nora realizes that he is worried only about what people would think of him, she becomes more aware of how she has been living. She perceives that she and Torvald do not even know each other. That night they have a real discussion for the first time. This is also the first time Torvald talks to Nora as an adult.

         Although Nora has been growing up over the years behind Torvald's back, she finally ceases being Torvald's silly child to become a fully independent woman in one day's time. Her true independence comes when she leaves the naïve Torvald and her children to work to find out who she really is.

Jessica Critchlow

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