A Different Little Mermaid

         The play A Doll's House was written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879 and was directed as a movie by Joseph Losey in 1973. This story of Nora and Torvald reminds me of the 1989 Disney movie The Little Mermaid, directed by John Musker. Both stories have some similarities, but they are also very different. In the play A Doll's House, Nora, the little wife, is somewhat like Arial, the daughter of the mermaid King Triton. Both girls like to collect things that they are told not to. These girls also have one big thing in common: they both are hiding something, something they both do not want anyone to know about. Nora and Arial are taking great risks in keeping these secrets.

         Nora (Jane Fonda) is a sweet wife to Torvald (David Warner). She is nice to him, and she gives him what he wants. Nora plays with Torvald just right so that he does not suspect anything. She buys a lot of useless things, and her husband still gives her money. Torvald gets on to Nora sometimes; but all she has to do is pretend she is sad; and he gives her what she wants. Arial is just the same; she goes exploring places she is told not to. She brings things home that are also useless, and she puts herself in danger. Her father, King Triton, gets on to her; but, after a little while, he thinks he has been too hard on her. However, by that time, she has already run away.

         Nora's big secret is that eight years ago she had borrowed money from Mr. Krogstad (Edward Fox), which women are not allowed to do back then without a man's signature. She had borrowed this money because Dr. Rank (Trevor Howard) had told her that she needed to get her husband down to a warmer climate, for example in Italy, for a while because he was sick, and he could die in the cold Norwegian winter. Not only had she borrowed money without her husband's permission, but also she had forged her father's name on the IOU. She had not wanted to disturb her father while he was on his deathbed. When Torvald finds out about the secret, he is very upset. After he yells insults at her, Nora realizes she does not really know Torvald as she has thought she had. Therefore, Nora ends up leaving in the end even though Torvald apologizes for his behavior.

         Arial's secret is not against the law as Nora's is. Arial has made a deal with Ursula, the sea witch, to make her become human for a day in exchange for her voice. In this deal, Arial has to get Prince Eric to fall in love with her and to kiss her before the sun comes up on the next day. Ursula is supposed to give Arial her voice back if she gets Eric to kiss her. While Arial is trying very hard to get Eric to kiss her without a voice, Ursula has transformed herself into a human and is using Arial's voice to lure Eric to herself. Arial's father has told her to stay away from humans and also to stay away from Ursula. However, Arial has done all of this without her father knowing. When her father finds out what she has done, he tries to go after Ursula. He is also very upset with what his daughter has done. Nevertheless, once everything is cleared up, after a huge mess of course, King Triton makes up with his daughter; and everything is good again.

         The main difference between the two stories is that The Little Mermaid has a happy ending, and the story A Doll's House does not. Also in the Disney movie, there is more dangerous action, as the secret in that story causes way more trouble. In the play, what Nora has done is illegal, but she has not hurt anyone. She had been trying to do only what she had thought was the right thing to do. Both girls have proved that they are very brave, and they both get what they have wanted at the end of their respective stories.

Jennifer Myers

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