The Typical Male Ego Rears Its Ugly Big Head

         Joseph Losey's 1973 film, A Doll's House, starring Jane Fonda and David Warner and based on Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, tells the story of Nora and Torvald Helmer, a young rich couple with three very young children. In the film, Nora (Jane Fonda) is forced to choose between signing falsely for a sum of money to take her ailing husband to Italy for the winter or risking his dying. As a result, when Nils Krogstad (Edward Fox), who had arranged the loan for her, is fired from his job at the bank by Helmer, the new bank manager, Krogstad tries blackmailing Nora to keep his job. Of course, at the end of the film Torvald finds out about his wife's unorthodox intercessions and, like any typical male, takes it as a personal threat by her against him when in, fact it, she had done it to save his life.

         Like most male characters of this time frame, Torvald Helmer is the king of his castle. He makes the rules, he brings in the money, and he is very egotistical about it all. He treats poor loony Nora as if she were a two-year-old or "a doll" he can possess and manipulate at will. Thus, when something goes off balance, such as Nora's blackmailer, he completely flies off the handle. Does he have a right to do such? In a sense, yes, because it is going to reflect on him somewhat as the new bank manager, though I feel that, if it had been a scandal that did not involve money, he would not have been so affected. Yet his threats go far and above the call of duty, promising to take the children away from Nora because she had done what had to be done at such a time.

         Still his egotism does not stop there. When Nora's blackmailer, having been persuaded to do so by his newly restored love, Christine Linde (Delphine Seyrig), returns the forged letter and the note, Torvald takes back all his threats by "forgiving" Nora her sins against him! He returns back to square one by replacing Nora to her status of a sort of sexual doll.

         Thank goodness by this time, Nora has some sense to be smarter than her egotistical husband and goes off to find herself like every true person should sometime in his or her young adult life. But even at this time Torvald maintains his sense of egotism by worrying about himself and what he will do without her, not really giving any note at all to the three young children or Nora herself. Hence, the great ugly egotistical head of the typical male is reveled once again.

Lynn Schentrup

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