The Female Puppet Master

         In the 1973 movies A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively and based on Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, great questions arise about who really pulls the strings and plays the role as puppet master, and who is just merely the puppet. Opinions vary still today on this topic. Personally, I see great supporting detail that shows Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) as the puppet master throughout the movie. She gets her way no matter what. Even when it is clear that Nora has done wrong, she still turns up in the end smelling like a rose. It is clear to me that she is in complete control the every situation at all times, regardless of if it seems that way or not.

         The most apparent evidence of her control in the movie is her relationship with Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) and the way she controls his money. Before the play and movies even start, because he was so opposed to borrowing money, she was pulling her strings to get a loan behind his back, to pay for his medical bills and take him to Italy to save his life. Not only is she controlling her husband, but she is also controlling the banker, Krogstad (Edward Fox/Denholm Eliot), whom she had lied to because she had forged her dead father's signature to obtain the loan. To make matters even worse, she then uses Torvald's money to pay the banker back. Irony lingers here because Torvald sees himself as being chivalrous and giving by making money hand over fist for her.

         She also controls her friend, Christine (Delphine Seyrig/Anna Massey), which in part controls the crooked banker. Because Nora cannot directly control him, she uses one of her assets that she does have control over. I could not help but laugh at the poor banker's gullible decisions. By the end, he has totally revoked his blackmailing letter, apologized, and basically lain down and quit fighting for his position at the bank. Clearly, he had been momentarily in complete control. However, he has forfeited that control when he chooses to accept the agreements of Nora's friend (indirectly orchestrated by Nora herself).

         The last reason that I say that Nora is the puppet master is the illusion of control that she always carried. There are several instances when she has lost complete control; and, yet without looking at the facts closely, one could totally miss this because of the illusion she creates. When she is pinned in the corner by Krogstad, she shows few to no outward signs of losing control. Also, although by the end of the movie she has totally lost control, instead of showing this and using it as her reason to leave, she puts Torvald at fault for what she has failed to do. Torvald buys into her illusion of control and in the end blames himself for what has had happened.

Aaron Mosier

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