She's no Doll!

     In the 1879 play A Doll's House (by Henrik Ibsen), I saw Nora as a desperate housewife. She was desperate to keep her husband in the dark about her secret and desperate to be the wife he wanted. She seemed to be happy with him and the children, even though she was struggling to pay back the two hundred and fifty pounds she had borrowed years before from Krogstad. Nora had my sympathy all the way up to the end. How could she just leave her family? She was so worried about saving Torvald's life that she had gone into debt to save him, and so worried about the possibility of having to leave her children to go to prison. The concept of leaving the children behind escapes me completely.

     When I saw the movie (directed by Patrick Garland), all the opinions I had firmly fixed about this story changed. I could see how fake and manipulative (Claire Bloom) really was. That little squirrel thing she did in order to extract money from Torvald (Anthony Hopkins) made me sick! Also, the way she teased Doctor Rank (Ralph Richardson) with the silk stocking was disgusting. She knew the man was going to die. I was really surprised she decided not to ask the poor man for the money after all.

     One thing Nora said which also bothered me occurred when she told her husband that the two of them had never sat down and had a serious conversation. I wonder how she could have expected anything different. She presented herself to Torvald as the kind of woman who is utterly incapable of a serious thought.

     The only way Nora could be redeemed in my mind is if she were suffering from bi-polar disorder. I really hope there is some clinical explanation for her incongruent behavior. No one will ever convince me that Nora did not love her husband at the beginning of the story. There is no way she could completely change her perception of her life in one night. In short, I can have no sympathy for a woman who willingly abandons her children.

Deborah Bland

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