The Living Doll

     In Henry Ibsen's famous 1879 play, A Doll's House, filmed twice in 1973 by Jack Clayton and Patrick Garland respectively, Nora Helmer played the role of a loving wife married to Torvald Helmer. Faced with a sticky situation created out of love for her husband, Nora was forced to decide between eternal blackmail and the truth.

     In her role as the loving wife, Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom), in my opinion, basically became a plaything for Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins). Torvald treated Nora as a material possession not capable of thinking or acting for or by herself. Through his constant use of pet names such as "squirrel," "mouse," and "skylark," he degraded her by placing her on a lower rank to him. She was treated as a toy playing at marriage with Torvald. From her limits with money to her marginal interaction with the children, she was treated as a child that could look at but not touch life. Thus, her personal thoughts and feelings were never allowed to grow in a natural manner.

     In the final episode of the play, Nora's deal with Krogstad became known to Torvald. Upon learning of the deal, Torvald basically blew up on Nora through immediate rejection and denial of her part in his family. Without treating her as a human being, much less as a wife, she became a china doll ready to discard in wait of a new toy. Nora, however, surprised Torvald in that she left him standing in his own imaginary doll house.

     In conclusion, Nora played the role of a living doll through her marriage with Torvald. Without expectations of forming her own thoughts and opinions, Torvald used her as a puppet at his own leisure. In the end, however, Nora proved to Torvald that dolls are not meant to be kept forever.

Krysta Ernstberger

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