A Dollís House Indeed

†††††††† Recently I had the opportunity to read Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll's House, as well as view the 1973 movie adaptation of A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland. The film adaptation starred Claire Bloom as Nora Torvald and a rather young and handsome Anthony Hopkins as her husband, Torvald Helmer. For the record, Anthony Hopkins was quite a catch in his pre-Silence of the Lambs days. Otherwise, I might not have enjoyed the film as much.

†††††††† The film follows basically the same plot as the play. In the early years of their marriage, Torvald becomes sick; and Dr. Rank (Ralph Richardson), their long-time family, friend informs Nora that, with Torvald's condition, he would not be able to survive a harsh Norwegian winter. Dr. Rank advises her to seek refuge by going south to a warmer climate.

†††††††† To make a long story short, Nora borrows the money from a man named Nils Krogstad (Denholm Elliot), who later becomes Torvald's nemesis. In order to pay the money back, Nora seeks employment as a scribner (behind Torvald's back) to repay her debt. She has done an impressive job thus far and almost has the debt completely paid off, until an unfortunate turn of events.

†††††††† Torvald, through his new position at the bank, plans to fire Krogstad and hire Nora's school friend Christine Linde (Anna Massey) in his place. Krogstad hears of his pending dismissal and blackmails Nora by letting her know that, if he is fired, Torvald will know that she has lied to him all this time. Even worse, Nora had forged her dead father's name on a document, which, if this news came out, would publicly shame her and make her unable to return to her husband and children.

†††††††† Nora concocts a plan to ask Dr. Rank for the money to pay off Krogstad; but, before she is able to ask, he confesses his love for her. Now, Nora is too ashamed to ask, and she knows the letter of dismissal is being delivered to Krogstad. With another twist of the plot, we find that Krogstad and Christine had been former sweethearts. By promising to marry him, Christine gets Krogstad to change his mind; but she asks him to wait to deliver the letter so that Torvald can find out the truth first. After all Nora's conniving, Torvald reads the letter from Krogstad revealing everything.

†††††††† At this point, A Doll's House turns into a full-blown episode of The Day's of Our Lives soap opera. Torvald is so drunk and angry that he cusses his "little squirrel" and smacks her; then avows that she cannot raise the children any longer. In the midst of Torvald's fury, he receives a letter from Krogstad, stating that he would not go public. We assume that this completely sobers Torvald up, and he then changes his attitude. Now he says everything is okay and they can go back to the way things were.

†††††††† However, it is as if a light bulb goes on in Nora's head, and she decides to leave Torvald. Nora goes from being a flighty, squirrel-face making child to a rational thinking adult in a matter of minutes. The only problem I have with her decision is that not only is she leaving her husband but she is walking out on her children as well. What did they do to have to pay for their parents mistakes? One other question I have is where is Nora walking out on Torvald to in the night in the middle of winter? She said that she would spend the rest of the night with her school friend and then go back to her home town to live and find a job. Of course, her friend might talk some sense into her and send her back to fight her battles.

†††††††† Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but I have a problem with Nora deciding that all of a sudden she does not like the way she has been leading her life, so she decides to walk away from it. That is not the answer, squirrel face! She had made marriage vows to her husband as he had done to her; and, "for better or for worse," they should honor those vows. If it takes tremendous changes, both Nora and Torvald should do their part to make their marriage work. After all, if I were married to Anthony Hopkins, I would try my hardest to make it work!

Katie Clark

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