An Expensive Pet

         I am often reminded by my grandmother what it used to mean to be a woman. It meant that a woman was totally submissive unto her husband. A woman's place was in the home. Her job was to cook, clean, and to take care of the children. When the husband got home from work, the woman cooked dinner and cleaned up the mess. These traditional roles are similar to the ones that Torvald (David Warner) expected his wife, Nora (Jane Fonda), to perform in the 1973 film, A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey and based on Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play.

         Until recently it was unheard of for the woman to have any monetary control over the family income. The husband would give the wife a certain portion to spend each week on necessities for the family. In Nora's case her weekly portion was not enough to appease her. Since she was not happy with her marriage, she bought nice things to make herself feel better. She was also secretly paying off her debt to Krogstad (Edward Fox), from whom she had borrowed money years ago, while forging her dead father's signature, to take her husband off to Italy to save his life.

         Nora was so money-hungry that, when Torvald offered to buy her something for Christmas, she declined and asked for the money instead. She was not interested in his gifts, only the money that he would give her. At one point in the movie he described her as an expensive pet. The nickname is a powerful description of their relationship. As long as Torvald was willing to give Nora money, she was happy with her life.

         Once the money stopped coming, she started realizing how much she hated being treated like a child's toy. Torvald was so mean that it is hard to have much sympathy for him. On the other hand, Nora used Torvald until she knew that she could not get anything out of him. After he had read the letter from Krogstad with her secret enclosed, I think she knew that Torvald would never trust her with his money ever again.

         In their case money was the root of all evil. I do not agree with the living situation that Nora was living in, but I also think that she helped to create it. I think both Torvald and Nora were to blame for the downfall of their relationship. Nora had every right to walk out on Torvald for his behavior, but she was also to blame for being so greedy. Both Torvald and Nora learned the hard way that money is not the key to a happy relationship.

Whitney Alexander

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