Nora and Stella: Children No More

         After reading the 1879 play A Dollís House and the 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire, I started to see some similarities in the main characters from both plays. These resemblances became even more apparent after viewing the 1973 film, A Dollís House, directed by Joseph Losey, and the 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Tennessee Williams.

         The characters Nora (Jane Fonda) and Stella (Kim Hunter) loved their husbands more than anything, which became more evident after I had been watching the films. Nora borrowed money illegally to save her husband, Torvaldís (David Warner) life. Nora knew he would never have borrowed the money, so she risked his disapproval of her so he would live. She secretly paid back the money without his knowledge for years. Like Nora, Stella also loved her husband, Stanley (Marlon Brando) so much that, despite everything, he put her through, she stayed loyal to him.

         Another similarity between Nora and Stella is that they were treated like children by being controlled and either verbally or physically abused by their husbands. Torvald told Nora what to do and expected her to do it. He wanted her as a showpiece for their company. She was to obey his wishes. Nora never had the opportunity to think for herself. After Torvald learned of Noraís deception, he verbally abused her. This proved that Torvald cared more about his reputation than his wife. Similarly, Stella was controlled by Stanley. He told her what she was to do. She was not allowed to listen to the radio without his approval. Along with controlling Stella, Stanley also verbally and physically abused her. When Stella disobeyed Stanley, he yelled at her, threw objects like dishes and the radio, and hit his pregnant wife. This proved that Stanley cared only about himself.

         The third factor that Nora and Stella had in common is that they both had children, making their decision of whether to leave their husbands a more difficult one to make. Nora loved her children and her husband, but she felt that she had been treated like a child for her entire life, so she was not ready for the responsibility that having children brought. She felt that she had more growing up to do before she could be the mother that they deserved. Stella also had a baby to think about when making her decision of whether or not to leave Stanley. Her situation was a little different from Noraís though, in that Stanley was the sole provider for the family; and Stella had no one else to help take care of her. She was dependent on Stanley. Her reasons to go were that Stanley was verbally and physically abusive; and Stella believed her sister, Blanche (Vivien Leigh), that Stanley had raped her.

         In the end, Nora and Stella made the same decision to leave their husbands. Although they had different reasons for doing so, they ultimately felt that living without their husbands would be a better life than living with them. Nora and Stellaís stories were very similar.

Nichole Walker