The Man Wears the Pants!

         A Doll's House, written in 1879 by Henrik Ibsen and filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, has an extremely controversial message located within it. The matter of control can be argued from many different angles. The question of who are the "dolls" that are just doing as they are told has many different answers. Although there is not a sure-fire answer to this question, I believe that Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) remains at the top of this social hierarchy. This leaves his wife, Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) and children down below for him to "play" with at his convenience.

         Because of the time of which the original play was set, the social structure does not allow for a woman to be in control. Torvald makes all of the money for his family, and he dispenses the money he earns as pleases. Nora has no direct path to any of "their" money without passing through Torvald. This is why Nora must go behind his back to receive from Krogstad (Edward Fox/Denholm Eliot) a loan that Torvald would not approve of to save his life, while forging her dead father's signature.

         Although at some points in the play and movies it looks as if Nora has the upper hand on Torvald, it is clear that the control that she possesses is not only temporary but is an illusion in itself. The true control lies within Torvald. If Krogstad had not revoked his blackmailing letter, Torvald would have had the opportunity to take the blame for the forgery connected with the loan to save his wife. I believe that if the dreadful decision had arisen, he would have taken the blame. This shows the control that Torvald has over Nora. He has the sole decision when push comes to shove.

         The easiest and most logical way to decide who has had control throughout most of A Doll's House is to look at the ending to the movie. Nora eventually leaves Torvald. People with control usually lose it at some point. This is what happened to Torvald at the end. The blame is put on him for the actions that Nora feels that she must take because he has been at the root of any decisions made in the house. Because of this, he has lost everything that he has held dear.

Aaron Mosier

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