Male Chauvinist

     Was Torvald (played by David Warner) in Joseph Losey's 1973 cinematic version of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, a male chauvinist, or was he a man of the times? I do not know how men treated their wives in the year this book was written or when the screenplay was done. I do know that there are men today who treat their wives in this way, and we have names for them. However, I believe that men today are a bit more sophisticated in the names they use.

     To make a comment on the dialogue would go a long way in describing this film; I personally found it degrading to women, childish, and manipulative, although Torvald is not the only one to blame here. Nora (played by Jane Fonda) talked to him in some pretty manipulative ways also. For example, this is evident when she wants money for Christmas instead of a gift or when she agrees to practice her silly dance, the tarantella, and says she needs his help to get it just right. She has to keep him away from the mailbox, and manipulation is the way she does it. The wording that she uses was the same that he has used on her; does he want his little sparrow to do this or that?

     I wanted to stop watching this film each time Torvald calls her one of his tacky little names, little bird, sparrow, butterfly. Ugh! (Which I know is not really a word, but it fits.) It was not believable dialog, but I believe necessary to this film and the way the film makers wanted to show Torvald. I see it as mockery to his wife.

     Christine (Delphine Seyrig) and Dr. Rank (Trevor Howard) seem to be the only two who speak like adults. However, I did see some manipulation on Christine's part, when she goes back to Krogstad (Edward Fox). It is my feeling that she uses him because she wants to help a friend; she also needs a home and a man. Christine realizes Krogstad is still in love with her, and she takes advantage of that.

     Was this script effective? For this film, A Doll's House, and what it wanted to convey, I believe so. As a woman in the year 2000, I find the dialog--in a word--ridiculous.

Rory Hughes-Melton

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