The Doll Stands Up

     A Doll's House (1879) by Henrik Ibsen, may be the first of the works we were required to read that I truly enjoyed and understood at the first reading. It was direct, concisely written and comprehensible. I believe I enjoyed the play much more than I enjoyed the 1973 Jane Fonda movie, directed by Joseph Losey. The movie that featured Ms. Fonda as Nora proved to be a vehicle for her feminist ideals. I am not opposed to women's rights or feminism as far as it goes, but I am in objection to entertainment-fare being used to get across personal viewpoints.

     I am not sure if it is the case, because I have had so much on my mind that I could not concentrate on the other pieces or that I am so used to reading that I could not concentrate as well as until now. I still have a great deal on my mind but I was able to enjoy this work. I do look forward to the other movie in order to see if the characterizations are better. I am trying to be more open-minded than I have been over the other works.

     Mr. Ibsen impressed me with his characterizations. They were (I suppose) typical of the period. Of course, the ending had to shock his contemporaries. I am not sure if all husbands were as condescending, but Torvald pushed the limit of my sensibilities. I am from a different era from Ibsen's and far more independent, so I would not have liked Torvald. It is nice to have a gentleman friend that indulges me on occasion, but I could not tolerate a man doing that much of my thinking. Torvald was unlikable to me because he had a way of talking down to Nora ("my little twitmouse," "my little squirrel" really were too much) and his treating her as inferior because she was not supposed to know how to manage money; For example, how was he to know if he did not trust her with more than household expense money? Of course, that was the way most men of that era thought, I suppose.

     Mr. David Warner did not make a very convincing Torvald. I think he was rather stern, but he seemed weaker somehow than I believe Mr. Ibsen intended. The characters, in general, were rather weak. I did not even enjoy the portrayal of the doctor by Trevor Howard. I felt cheated by this movie version. I hope the other movie will not leave me feeling that the characters were so weak-kneed, and lackluster.

     Of course, Nora showed weakness at first, by being her father's doll-child and then Torvald's doll-wife; but part of that was due to the period in which she lived. It was to her credit that she stood up and declared her independence in the end. I liked the way she picked up on Torvald's treacherous attitudes, the switch in his demeanor when he felt relief at the problem being solved. She was not as ignorant as I had thought her to be.

     I found his attitude to be reprehensible. He did not love her as dearly as he proclaimed, if he could only be worried about his reputation. I think there have always been men who care more for their precious reputations at all costs. It did not speak well of him that he would not listen to Nora's explanation of the reason she had done what she had done. His refusal to hear her proved his character to be obnoxious and condescending; it was almost a soft form of bullying. Nora showed strength in the end, but I did not agree with Mr. Ibsen having her abandon her children. Overall, though, the play was interesting for what it taught us about human nature; no one wants to be treated like a doll, for very long that is.

Glenda F. Riley

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