Divorce, common in one in three marriages, is plaguing society, and it has recently become widely accepted throughout the world. Now the destruction of families and homes across the country are being excused like talk of the weather. Marriage vows are no longer sacred but promises made to be broken. The 1879 Norwegian play A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, is a prime example of a relationship that fell apart. The marriage of Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) and Nora Helmer (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) turned out to be unsuccessful, lacking the most important quality essential to a good marriage: mutual and respectful love.
Love is the central emotion of all relationships. Although the basis for Nora and Torvald's relationship appeared to be centered on love, the needed balance was not obtained. Torvald did not really love Nora; to him she was just a "doll," "squirrel," "skylark," etc. He does not love his wife with the respect and sensitivity a man should. The main area where Torvald showed his lack of love for Nora was in the way he managed his house. Torvald was the owner of what he believed to be a perfect dollhouse, which had previously been controlled by Nora's dominating father. Torvald manipulated Nora and the children to make certain that he could never lose control over his precious dollhouse and his precious Nora. This lack of love and imperious attitude would eventually ruin their marriage. Nora is the only one who showed love for the other in this play. Trying to break free from her "doll" image, Nora continues to love her husband, while living her stereotype and trying to find her true self, a strong and intelligent woman.
A balance of love between man and wife that is needed in any marriage was certainly not reached between Torvald and Nora. Neither of them truly knew the other; they could not even have a true meaningful, adult conversation until the very end of the play and their marriage. However, the point is not that their marriage was not perfect; it is that no marriage is perfect. The reasons why vows are spoken are to preserve and protect their relationships "through good times and bad." Torvald and Nora represent every dysfunctional marriage that gives into divorce hastily instead of trying to improve their relationship, thus saving and honoring their vows, their children, and themselves.