Nothing Comes for Free

         Dr. Rank's statement ". . .one can't have anything in this life without paying for it" reminds me of most of the characters in Henrick Ibsen's 1879 play and the 1973 version of A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland. At the beginning, Nora does not realize how lucky she is to have a husband that spoils her and three children that adore her. Compared to Mrs. Christine Linde and Mr.Nils Krogstad, Nora and Torvald Helmer have everything in the world anyone could want. Most of the characters have almost everything they want, but they still end up unhappy. The two characters that started out with hardly anything end up happy once they find the one thing they had waited for.

         When reading the play, I did not really understand how well off Torvald and Nora are until I saw the movie, starring Anthony Hopkins and Claire Bloom. Their house was bright, cheerful, and extravagant, as compared to the house of Krogstad (Denholm Elliot) that appears dark, damp, and gloomy. The house is not the only thing Nora has received that she may not have with any other husband. Before we as viewers know what she had done for her husband, we see her prancing around and begging for money, as if that is all she cares about. Torvald, on the other hand, struts around as though he is in total control and knows everything.

         Torvald does not know what Nora had put into getting the loan and trying to pay it off, until it is too late. Nora had worked hard and taken a big risk, all for him, to take him down south to Italy to save his life when he was very ill. Unfortunately, he does not realize this until after he has blown up at her and read the letter from Krogstad, letting them off the hook. In the movie he even slaps her.

         Mrs. Christine Linde (Anna Massey) had not married Krogstad, the one she had loved, but instead had married for money to support her mother and two brothers. However, her husband had died, leaving her with no children and no money. Meanwhile, Mr. Krogstad had worked hard to be successful and even cheated to try to accomplish his goals. Therefore, his wife had left him; and his reputation had been ruined. In the end, by having nothing and going through hard times, Nils Krogstad and Christine Linde both finally know what they wanted and end up getting together.

         Because Torvald and Nora had always had everything, when the chance of them losing it all occurs, their relationship crumbles. Relationships that are built on flimsy foundations, crumble at a tremor. This story reminds me of that old saying, "You never know what you have until it is gone."

Magen Marksberry

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