Keys to a Doll's House

     Often, people go through life feeling as if they are living someone else's life, instead of striving toward their own goals. Usually, people that live their life for someone else, end up realizing later on that they are not happy with their life and have to break free. For example, in Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll's House, filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland, respectively, Nora Helmer realized that she had been treated like a doll all her life, instead of a human being. Women in Nora's position seem to follow in her footsteps now more than ever, which made this play easier to relate to.

     Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) was a rebellious woman that kept her true colors hidden most of her life. As a young child and woman she played the role of her father's "doll" and spent this time of her life pretending to be happy. Then she met and married Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) and became his "doll" too. She would dress accordingly and feel whatever emotion she was told to feel. Nora did not express her true feelings to anyone other than Dr. Rank (Trevor Howard/Ralph Richardson). To her children, she was just a great playmate and not really a mother.

     It seems that a lot of extremely wealthy families experience these kinds of problems. During the Victorian Age, women were to play the role their husbands wanted them to and pretend to be nothing more than the happy house wife and mother. This is still true today in the royal family. Oprah had the Duchess of York, better known as Fergie, on a show; and Fergie had experienced similar experiences. She was to play the role of the wealthy wife and act as if life were treating her great, when, in return, she was truly miserable with her lifestyle.

     Both Nora in A Doll's House and Fergie experienced the key to playing the life of a wealthy, bored wife. Nora pretended to be the doll for her husband to show off, and Fergie felt like the jewel of her husband's family, that had no say in what she did. Fergie was to live on the second floor of the mansion, without seeing her husband, because he was often out on an expedition. She did not know how to get out of her miserable situation and how to change her life to make it on her own. Nora too, felt trapped in this life, but she never expressed it. Nora kept her feelings concealed from everyone except Dr. Rank. Fergie kept her feelings concealed from the public too, until this interview with Oprah. When Fergie spoke about her life one could clearly see she felt trapped and helpless.

     As soon as I read A Doll's House, I made a connection with Nora's feelings. In the end, both women realized they were living someone else's life and had the courage to pick up, move on and start over.

Alison Brandow

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