Taking a Chance on Love

     Have you ever wondered why some couples stay together? For instance, in A Doll's House why did Nora stay with Torvald as long as she did, or in Streetcar Named Desire why did Stella stay with Stanley in the play and probably will return to him in the movie? Both women had choices: however, one chose to stay and the other chose to leave.

     In Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, Nora (Jane Fonda/ Claire Bloom) struggles with the secret of her debt, which she had incurred eight years earlier to save her husband's life. Finally, after she was being blackmailed by Krogstad (Edward Fox/ Denholm Elliot), who had lent her the money, Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) finds out about it. Torvald shows his true character when the debt is revealed. Throughout their marriage, Nora had suppressed her character. She had acted like Torvald's doll that he could control. She had only been known s "Torvald's wife" instead of as Nora. Nora had never considered herself as her own person; therefore, Torvald did not think of her as capable of anything. He was controlling and overbearing and would have never have let her take out that loan, even though Nora had seen it as her only way to save his life. Nora had hid everything from Torvald, the macaroons, the debt, and even herself.

     Nora had this image of him taking the blame for the debt and forgiving her. She had no idea that he would react with hatred and forbid her from seeing the children. Little did he know that this would push her over the edge? When he had realized that Krogstad was not going to go public, he forgave Nora for doing what she did, while instead he should have been the one begging for forgiveness. When she told him she was leaving, then he decided to beg for forgiveness. Even though she may not have been successful back home, she would have at least had her own life. If Nora had stayed Torvald would have gone back to his old self again.

     In Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947 and filmed in 1951 by Elia Kazan, Stella (Kim Hunter) must choose whether or not to stay with her husband (Marlon Brando). Stanley was just as controlling as Torvald. Stella had been brought up differently from the way that Stanley had; yet she chose to live his kind of life. She put up with his drinking, gambling, and his angry mood swings. She managed to live with all this, as well as his physical abuse. Stella had really tried to be something different from what she had been raised as because Stanley had shown her a new life. It is obvious that Stella had loved him despite his qualities. Had Stanley never shown her that he could love, she probably would not have stayed with him in the play. Stanley had shown his sweet side, and Stella fell for it once again.

     No one ever said that marriages or relationships were easy. Marriages certainly were not easy for Stella or Nora. Relationships never work when one tries to become something that one is not. Nora realizes that she had suppressed herself and her opinions too long. Stella was not quite ready to leave Stanley and begin her own life in the play and was probably was not in the movie. We all take chances on life, and these women had taken a chance that their marriages would work.

Leah Sims

Table of Contents