Women Have Changed

         Ibsen wrote A Doll's House in 1879. In the play and in the 1973 film adaptation, directed by Patrick Garland, Torvald (Anthony Hopkins), a future bank manager, is married to a woman named Nora (Claire Bloom), who is a housekeeper. Circumstances between Nora and Torvald force Nora to live a double life. Most people are not happy when falling into the mold of someone else; most people must be their own selves and know who they are. In the play and film, Nora's life has always revolved around the male figure in her life; she has to resort to deception to be the woman she wants to be. Nora is forced to lie and use deception within her relationship with Torvald. In the beginning of the film, when Torvald asks Nora if she has eaten a macaroon, she lies to Torvald that she had not eaten a macaroon. However, Nora had committed a much more severe act than that; she had forged her father's signature on the papers for a bank loan to take her sick husband to Italy for the winter to save his life.

         Torvald cannot accept his wife's help; he feels that he must take total control over her every move. If he would give Nora her own space and allow her to live as her own person, she would not have to lie and deceive him. Nora is not happy for herself; but she is happy for her husband; she is unable to think for herself and is forced to act like a doll. Torvald needs to be in constant control of Nora and their household. It is apparent that Nora is a prize to him, and she is to beautify his home and his own appearance. Torvald does not refer to Nora by her first name. Instead constantly calling her diminutive names, like "Squirrel" and "Skylark," is an example of Torvald's attempting to dominate her. Indeed, Torvald will call her by her real name only to reprimand her. Torvald believes that Nora should only play one role in the household: she should be the housekeeper. Torvald plays the role of Nora's second father, always keeping her dependent on him. Nora must depend on Torvald for money and beg for it just as a young child would to her father.

         Looking back on this as a woman in this day, I cannot imagine putting up with that. I believe a woman should be in charge of her own life and not have to depend on a man or others for satisfaction and support. I believe that everyone should be treated as an equal. Nora realizes that she is human, that she has her own personality, and that she can be who she wants to be. Before she is a wife and a mother, she is a woman. Nora does not need to lead a life of deception to be the woman she wants to be. This story was one of the first that showed a woman (Nora) standing up for herself a foreshadowing of the present day-liberated women.

Sarah Weaver

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