Torvald the Terrible

     Torvald, as portrayed by David Warner and Anthony Hopkins, in Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland, respectively, was no excuse for a husband. Certainly, he did not physically hurt his wife, Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom), but even worse, he crushed her soul and her spirit. Nora, a pleasant woman outwardly, had so many secrets and told so many lies. She kept things from her husband on a continuous basis, such as the macaroons and the money that she borrowed, because he did not have much faith in her as an adult. He made her feel terribly inadequate, and he treated her as he did his children. Perhaps, that is the reason she acted the way she did and pulled the stunts she did.

     The only time Torvald spent thinking of her as an adult came when he was drinking and wanted her in a matronly manner. This alone was enough to crush her soul and spirit. The only time he treated her with some equality occurred when he was actually trying to use her. Torvald had absolutely no respect for his wife, and this was indicated in every word spoke to her and in every advance made towards her.

     Torvald Helmer was only interested in what made him look better in the eyes of his peers. He had to have the best. For instance, he had the prettiest, seemingly mindless wife, his best friend was the town doctor, and his future position was manager of the bank. It was all about his appearance. That is the reason he reacted the way he did when he learned of his wife's deceit. Remember, he did not feel her plight and pain; he simply was concerned only with the question: how could she do this to him?--when actually, everything that Nora had done concerning this matter was for them. Torvald Helmer was a small-minded, utilitarian, uncaring husband. He deserved to be left alone because he cared for no one but himself anyway.

Kim Nantz

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