"Houston, We Have a Problem"

     It has always been said that communication is a key element in any relationship. It helps things run smoothly, and is important if a relatonship is to grow and mature. Everyone has his or her own definition of communication and the perfect relationship, and a prime example of this is the relationship between Nora and Torvald in the 1879 play written by Henrik Ibsen, as well as the 1973 cinematic versions of A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively.

     Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) seems to be the man's man in the story. It is he who controls everything in the household. He has an extremely strong work ethic; in fact, work seems to come before wife and children. In my humble opinion, he is a male chauvinist. He treats Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) as though she were a pet and does not seem to pay much attention to his children at all. In fact, he seems to take much of his life for granted. Nora loves him very much, and she would do almost anything to please him, but Torvald treats Nora as though she were simply a plaything, or a child. These actions are seen time and time again throughout the movies.

     When Nora borrowed money from Krogstad to save her husband's life, little did she realize that her actions would eventually let her realize her own potential. This is the point at which the communication issue comes into play. If only Nora had told Torvald that she was borrowing the money, instead of forging her dead father's signature and claiming that the money had been a gift from him, there would have been no way that Krogstad could have tried to blackmail her to keep his job at the bank after Torvald, the new bank manager, had promised to fire him.

     It is through trying to resolve this problem with the money that Nora discovers how Torvald truly views her. He puts her in his place each and every time he talks to her. I am sure that it came as a blow to her that he only viewed her as his wife, and not as an equal. It did not matter that they had had three children; it did not matter that they had been married for eight years. All that mattered to Torvald was that things appeared normal and went according to how he had planned them. He was always concerned with what others thought about him and how things appeared. "Keeping up Appearances" was important, above all else. I suppose that, in that time period, many people thought that way, especially because succeeding in business seemed to be so much harder.

     However, after Krogstad writes to Torvald about the loan and the forged signature, Torvald tells Nora that she is not fit to raise her own children. Thus, she comes to a decision. She is going to leave, and nothing that Torvald says is going to stop her. She has realized that her father had a "doll" and a subordinate, as had Torvald. She needs to go out into the real world and see if she can survive by her own wits. She had previously admired her friend Mrs. Linde (Delphine Seyrig/Anna Massey) for being able to do that very thing.

Sarah Fuchs

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