Playtime Is Over

         The film, A Doll’s House, based on Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play, is the basis for this essay. This film was released in 1973, and it was directed by Patrick Garland. Prominent stars included Claire Bloom (Nora), Anthony Hopkins (Torvald), Ralph Richardson (Dr. Rank), Denholm Elliot (Nils Krogstad), Edith Evans (Anne-Marie), and Anna Massey (Kristine Linde). This film shows the complex relationship of manipulation between Nora and her husband. The film also demonstrates how Nora grows up over the course of several life-changing events.

         Anthony Hopkins was marvelous as Torvald. From watching his character interact with Claire Bloom’s, I was able to see the many different sides of his character. From the time he entered the film, he exuded power and influence. When Torvald interacted with Nora, he treated her as a child. He called her very silly names like “squirrel,” and Nora even went so far as to do a chirping sound to imitate a squirrel. Torvald was very manipulative when it came to money. He basically expected Nora to do “little tricks” for him before he would let Nora have any money.

         On the other hand, Nora was also very manipulative when it came to money. Nora had secretly taken out a loan to send Torvald, while forging her dying father’s signature, to a warmer climate so he could recover from his illness. Nora was able to keep the secret from him for eight years. She secretly worked to raise the money to pay back her loan. If Krogstad had never sent the letter to Torvald about Nora’s illegal borrowing of the money, Nora would have never told Torvald about it at all. Nora tried everything to keep Krogstad from telling Torvald. She begged and pleaded for Torvald to keep Krogstad on at the bank. She even sent Kristine to reason with Krogstad. Nora did all of this behind Torvald’s back.

         Torvald found out about the loan anyway. In typical fashion for a controlling man like him, Torvald took his anger out on Nora. He never gave her the chance to explain why she borrowed the money until he found the note that contained the IOU and the apology from Krogstad. It was only after he realized his reputation was saved that he finally listened to Nora.

         It was this confrontation that made Nora realize how childish she had been. She saw that she had been controlled by her father and that, when she had married Torvald, he went right on controlling her. She had never learned to grow up and deal with serious matters because the men in her life had always shielded her from them. She had been too delicate or immature to deal with such matters. It took a major blow-up with her husband to finally see that she needed to learn how to live on her own and become an adult.

         The sad thing, of course, is that Nora chose to leave her own children. She chose to do this because she saw that she had been treating them as her father and Torvald had treated her. Nora’s children were her “dolls.” She came to the realization that she was not fit as a mother. Nora decided that, until she learned to be a good mother, she must not subject her children to her behavior any longer. This decision had to be very hard for Nora to make.

         Both Nora and Torvald had done many things wrong. Nora never should have lied to him about the loan, and Torvald should have treated her as his wife and not his child. The characters in A Doll’s House gave me a look into the life of a woman who wanted to break free. Nora wanted to be free of the controlling personality of her husband. The result of this action was that she left her children. As with many stories like this, the children were bound to end up being hurt by their mother‘s leaving. If Nora had been known how to properly interact with her husband and children, and if Torvald had known how to properly treat his wife and family, the messy break-up could have been avoided.

Alicia Hughes

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