Torvald and Torvald Light

     The advent of the motion picture has allowed readers of literature to create live models of the characters they envision in their imagination. Each and every single person has his or her own unique configuration of characters when reading, and this is shown in the difference of the characterization of Torvald in the two A Doll's House film adaptations made in 1973. The Joseph Losey version displayed a much crueler Torvald than the Patrick Garland film did.

     In Losey's version of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, Torvald (David Warner) is depicted as a cynical, cold-hearted individual who seems to prioritize appearance and career decisions above his own family. One scene that particularly exemplifies this is evident when Nora (Jane Fonda) returns home after a shopping spree and calls out for Torvald in order to share her excitement with him. Torvald leaves his work and enters the room with an expressionless face that silently tells both Nora and the audience "What the hell are you doing disturbing me and my work?" He is rude and sarcastic with most of his actions, and he seems to show no interest in being married to Nora.

     The Torvald portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in Garland's production still is preoccupied with outside appearances, yet he possesses a softer side. Hopkins' character shows traces of generosity and compassion for his wife, which are both absent in the Warner character. The same shopping instance mentioned above clearly contrasts the two adaptations. When Nora (Claire Bloom) returns from shopping, Torvald enthusiastically greets her and seems glad that his little squirrel had returned home safely. While showing him her purchases, Torvald relaxes in his chair and seems to be concerned with Nora's day. Even though he might be disturbed that his work was interrupted, he at least had the decency to respect his wife's feelings. This is a far cry from the emotionless animal in Losey s version.

     Although the two adaptations of Ibsen's A Doll s House contained the same character Torvald, both Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland differently portrayed the antagonist in contrasting manners. Both adaptations resulted in Nora leaving Torvald due to emotional neglect and inconsideration for her feelings. However, Losey envisioned Torvald as one hard son-of-a-bitch, while Garland perceived him as a man whose generosity was masked by superficial concerns. Whatever the case, these two films show the variety of imagination that goes into reading literature.

Adam Thompson

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