Women's Rights or Human Rights

     Jane Fonda's updating of Henrik Ibsen's Nora Helmer in his 1879 A Doll's House involves a drastic alteration from the original Nora's realizing what a being a human means to her modern counterpart's fighting for women's rights. Henrik Ibsen's Nora became a crusader for women's rights at the hands of Jane Fonda's 1973 A Doll's House, directed by Joseph Losey.

     In Fonda's version, "Nora is played as if she was a woman who just came back from an equal rights rally" is correctly stated by Brian Gray in his essay "Jane vs. Claire" in Montage '96. Nora is shown to the reader as a woman who suddenly sees how her life has been one of a doll's. She decides to become a human and leaves her family. Ibsen wanted to show that human rights and needs should come before the wants and needs of society. "Be true to yourself" is what emerged from the play.

     In Jane Fonda's Nora the theme seemed to be "women's rights." Nora is shown as a wife who does everything in her life for her husband and children. Instead of Ibsen's Nora, who emerges as a reformed doll trying to find out who she is, Jane's Nora comes across as nothing more than a petty woman wanting more.

     The updating of the play did not work because of the emphasis on women's rights. The modern twist ruined a great play and did not do justice to the greatness of theme.

     Fonda did not do a good job of playing Nora. The Nora of the play was not the Nora of the movie. The other actors were not much better in playing the cast of A Doll's House.

     Human rights cannot be upgraded to women's rights. They are two separate issues. The downfall of the movie was trying to combine them. Taking Henrik Ibsen's work and turning it into a soapbox was not necessary for such a timeless piece. The changes, such as the opening of the movie, also made it more unreliable. To make Nora seem so in love with Torvald (David Warner) was not only a waste of time but also unlikely. Casting someone unattractive opposite Jane Fonda may have made the audience buy her leaving him more, but his unloving nature, showed in the movie, made loving him impossible. Updating may work in some adaptations but not in A Doll's House by Joseph Losey in 1973.

Angie Butler

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