Nothing Gold Can Stay

         Things are not always as they seem. Many times humans imagine they have or are involved in something perfect. In time, the situation turns, forcing them to reevaluate the situation, realizing that it is far from perfect. As in the poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost, we are sometimes disillusioned as to the true significance of what we see.

         In the beginning of A Doll's House, written in 1879 by Henrik Ibsen and filmed in 1937 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland, Torvald Helmer (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) and his wife, Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom), have just come across a bit of good luck. Because Helmer gets a raise when he is given a new position as a bank manager, they are expecting a different kind of life. Nora wants to borrow money to buy some nice things since Helmer has a better job, but Helmer has never liked to borrow money. Nora should obey Helmer to keep life perfect. But nothing gold can stay, and conflict is about to rise. While reading A Doll's House, I thought of the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden where everything is also perfect. Adam and Eve are living a life of ease. Everything they could want is provided for them. There is no sickness, no death; life is great. The only stipulation God has placed on them is to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil or The Tree of Life. But this perfect life will also have a conflict.

         In A Doll's House, Nora has a secret--she had borrowed money in order to save Helmer's life. He was sick, and the doctors recommended that he go south to Italy to recuperate. She had borrowed the money from a clerk in a solicitor's office, Krogstad (Edward Fox/Denholm Elliot), who has since become an employee at the bank, which her husband is about to take over. However, to get the loan, she had needed her father to sign it. He was deathly ill at the time, so she had forged his name--a huge mistake! Up until now, Nora had kept her loan a secret, making payments more or less on time.

         But Krogstad has a dark past, similar to Nora's; Helmer is planning to fire Krogstad because of his dark past and his over familiarity with Helmer. Therefore, Krogstad decides to blackmail Nora as a way to keep his job. Nora tries to convince Helmer to either open an office for Krogstad at the bank or to let him keep his current job. Throughout the book, Krogstad continues to blackmail Nora because she does not want to tell Helmer about the loan. Even her friend, Christine (Delphine Seyrig/Anna Massey) tries to convince her to tell Helmer about the situation. Eventually the lies catch up to her; Helmer gets a letter from Krogstad telling of her loan and forgery.&

         A similar occurrence happens in Eden. One day, Eve is alone in the Garden when she is approached by Satan. He knows the stipulation about the forbidden fruit, but he still decides to tempt her. He tells her of all the wonderful things that will happen if she eats of the fruit. Finally, Eve gives in to the temptation.

         The consequences of Nora's actions lead to Helmer becoming very angry. He yells at Nora for being so stupid and for creating a vulnerability to Krog. Then one day Krog sends a letter stating that he has had a happy turn-around in his life, so he is sending the forged note to them; they can do what they want with it. Then Helmer apologizes to Nora, but she is tired of the life she has lived. Nora realizes that she really has not had a life--Helmer and her father have used her just like a child playing with dolls, manipulating her into doing whatever they want her to do. In the end, she decides to leave Helmer and pursue an education for herself, signifying the end of what had seemed to be a perfect marriage. Now their lives will be greatly changed. In Eden, Eve has eaten of the fruit. She shares it with Adam. After eating of the fruit, they realize they are naked and need to cover themselves. They hide from God in the Garden. Because of their sin, God changes their lives forever.

         Both stories include something that is forbidden--Nora should not get the loan, and Eve should not eat of the fruit. Both women eventually give in to the temptation, causing their lives to be harder. In both examples, a perfect situation is ruined because of wanting something they should not have. Both instances have a tempter--Krogstad and Satan--who initiate the problem, but it is Nora and Eve who give in. In both occasions, the weak ones are women who think they are helping their husbands. Is it because of women that nothing gold stays? The readers must decide for themselves.

Ben Hocker

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