Self-Realization

         Nora is one of the most interesting characters one could read about. Her character is extremely complex. The first view one gets of here is a simple and naïve view. Then with a turn of the story we discover that she has a deep, dark secret. Now one would view her as still naïve but with enough substance of character to disobey her husband and keep silent. Then the story ends with Nora coming to a full realization about her life.

         In the play A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, Nora is an extremely naïve creature. She is referred to as a helpless animal by Torvald countless times. We are also introduced to Christine, who treats Nora in the same way. Nora is an obedient wife who seems to hold no secrets. When we are told of Nora's going against her husband and forging her dead father's name, we are made to think twice about her. We discover that, although she is naïve about the criminal act she has done, Nora is still quite cunning when dealing with Krogstad. As the story continues, Nora begins to see what life really is. She realizes that the judicial system is not what she thought, that she is the same as Krogstad, and that her relationship with Torvald is not what she wants. This realization of life leads her to stand against Torvald and adds a wonderful ending to the story.

         Each 1973 film of A Doll's House also shows Nora's awakening. The film directed by Joseph Losey does not reveal it as profoundly as the second does though. The Losey film cuts out a majority of the pet names that Ibsen's original Torvald uses, as well as the actions that I believe Ibsen's own Nora should do. Professor Roulston has stated that Jane Fonda, who played the part of Nora to David Warner's Torvald, was an active feminist and may have let her beliefs bleed through into the character she played. As a result, the Nora in this version did not seem as helpless as she would need to be to get the full effect of the realization.

         The second film of A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland, portrays this awakening magnificently. Claire Bloom's Nora is sweet, chipper, obedient, and childlike at the beginning. The director also showed an extremely loving relationship between her Nora and Anthony Hopkin's Torvald, which I think added a tremendous amount to the story. The scenes between Nora and Denholm Elliot's Krogstad show the audience the serious yet childlike side of Nora. The scenes of Nora in her home display an almost sickening side as the obedient housewife. After all of this character buildup, the film ends with an incredibly emotional scene between Nora and Torvald. The entire film shows the love between them, but this final scene proves how fake that love had been all along. This scene demonstrates the ways in which it was a fake and how Nora has changed and become a serious adult. She takes charge at last of the situation in a sensible way and does not back down.

         Clearly, the cinematic version, directed by Patrick Garland, is much more effective in showing the great change in Nora, as played by Claire Bloom than is the one, directed by Joseph Losey, which features Jane Fonda as a rampant seventies feminist.

Theresa Skinner

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