Feigning Weakness to Hide Her Strength

         In Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, Nora is as many women in the past have been. She is very strong and devoted on the inside but appears to be a very carefree and doll-like creature only there to bring entertainment to her husband, Torvald. This reminds me of the idea of the traditional 1950s family. The play makes a feminist statement mostly unknown in the late 1970s and 1880s and not all that evident in the 1950s.

         Nora, played by Jane Fonda in Losey's 1973 movie, is obviously leading a dual role. Her duality surfaces at the beginning when Torvald (David Warner) accuses her of eating forbidden macaroons. Her reply, "I should not think of going against your wishes," foreshadows the events of the story. From that point on its obvious that Nora is more than just Torvald's little squirrel. It is obvious that she pretends to be the submissive wife but does as she likes outside of his presence. It is almost as if she is acting for him and putting on a little show for his entertainment.

         Even today women feign weakness and helplessness to stroke the male ego as Nora does in A Doll's House. She has always been treated like a plaything, even by her father, and has thought that she could only be loved as such. The fear of not being loved if one is too strong still plagues women today.

         Nora has gotten into a horrible situation by secretly borrowing money and forging her dead father's signature, although she had good intentions, which were to take her sick husband to Italy to save his life. She has shown her strength by working secretly to pay off the debt, and she still runs the household finances. She undoubtedly holds onto a sense of strength and character that deserves nothing less than the adoration and respect of her husband.

         It is understandable that she would be angry at the realization of what she was lacking in her marriage by the overly angry way Torvald reacts to finding out about the secret; however, leaving her children is irresponsible. If she actually runs away from her responsibilities to "find herself," then it would be in vain because such a careless action does not really reflect the determination and strength of her character.

Jemekka Stray

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