A Real Dollís House

           In Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play A Doll's House the dolls are real people.  When dolls are mentioned most people think of cute visions of little girls playing with their favorite toy. However, in this play and the 1973 movie, directed by Joseph Losey, the main doll being played with is a woman by the name of Nora Helmer.

           Her husband, Torvald (David Warner), treats her more like a doll than a human being.  This way of treatment is not uncommon for Nora (Jane Fonda) though, for she has dealt with it before. She has spent her entire life being someone's doll. It began when she was a little girl; her father also treated her as a doll.  She was his little toy to play with. Now that Nora has married, her life still has not changed.

           Torvald has given Nora pet names that are very patronizing. He never treats her as though they are equals.  In the movie we see that Nora and Torvald never sit down to have a real conversation until near the end of their marriage and the movie. It always seems that every exchange that they have is always cute and short, never with any substance.  There are all sorts of "rules" that have been set for Nora. Torvald will not let her eat her favorite macaroons; he monitors her spending and overall treats her as a child. The way she is treated leads her to deceiving her husband by eating the macaroons and committing a crime by forging her dead father's signature to obtain a loan to save Torvald's life behind his back.

           At the end of the movie and play Nora has become tired of being someone's doll. She finally reveals her wrongdoing and is shown that things are not really as they had seemed to her.  She finally stands up to Torvald and tells him how she feels and how he makes her feel. She holds her head up high, no longer wanting to be a doll. She walks out of the "dollhouse," finally becoming a "real" woman.

Elizabeth Barrett

Table of Contents