Should Nora Stay or Leave?

         A Doll's House, written by Henry Ibsen and published in 1879 and filmed in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, tells a story of Nora Helmer (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom). Nora is a woman, who without knowing the full illegality of her actions, had forged her father's dead signature for a loan to save her husband, Torvald's (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) from dying of tuberculosis by taking him to Italy. The reason for the loan was to go Italy to save her new husband from dying of tuberculosis. The whole story is about Nora trying to stop Krogstad (Edward Fox/Denholm Elliot) from telling her husband about the loan because her husband, the new manager of the bank, has fired Krogstad. In the end, when he finds out, Torvald treats her with contempt for fear of his reputation getting ruined and then with forgiveness to Nora when Krogstad returns the IOU. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done, and Nora leaves him. The question is as follows: was she right to leave him?

         Throughout the book and films, a person can see that Nora leads a happy life; why would she want to leave it? The first reason is that all her life, she has basically become whatever person she was living with had wanted. She now wants to go out and explore the world and find who she really is. The second is that Torvald, her husband, has not turned out to be the man she has expected because he has reacted the wrong way towards the situation. Warner's Torvald snarls and sneers at the wounded, pleading Fonda's Nora; and Hopkins' Torvald actually slaps Bloom's Nora, while shouting: "You stupid woman." It is when this happens that she realizes that he needs to change too.

         A person might argue that the reasons for staying are greater than the ones for leaving. The main reason is the fact that she is a mother and wife to a family. The thought process behind this reason is that in those days women were expected to give up everything first to her husband, and then her children.

         With both sides of an argument presented, it is the belief that Nora was right to leave. If she were to stay there as things were, there would always be that situation hanging over Torvald's and her head. Also, with the argument of the children is that there is a nanny that could take care of them; and, all reality, the nanny knows the children better than Nora does. In the end, Nora would greatly benefit if she leaves. It is my hope, though, that one day Torvald and she could get back together and live a better life as true equals.

Michelle Maden

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