The Boy and His Toy's Relationship

     When I was a young boy, one of my favorite pastimes was playing with my action figures and making them kick the hell out of each other. My sister, on the other hand, played dress-up and house with her Barbies and dreamed of the day that she could have a big house, nice clothes, and a husband. I never understood why she found that more interesting than having action figures beat their brains in. After I read Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll's House, I understood why she played house and why I played with my action figures. In the play, Nora is her dream; she is a Barbie that is getting everything she wants; and her husband, Torvald, is just playing with his toy, Nora.

     In Barbie's world everything is perfect; she has money, clothes, a nice house, three children, a loving husband, and everything she wants she gets--it is a fantasy world. Nora has all of the above. Her husband, who loves her very much, has just been promoted at the bank, so they have money; they have nice clothes, a good house, three children, a maid, and no problems to discuss--it is a fantasy world. If Nora ever feels her fantasy world threatened, then she does everything in her power to make sure it is not ruined. Once before her fantasy world was threatened by an illness Torvald had contracted, so she had borrowed a large amount of money by forging her father's signature on the papers and taking her husband on a vacation to Italy to make him well again. By her having done this, she has kept her little world and lives on.

     On the other end of the spectrum is Torvald, who likes playing with his action figures so much that he has decided to try puppetry with his own wife. If he tells her to tweet, she tweets. She does anything he wants; he even refers to her as his little songbird.

     Their interaction is better viewed in the 1973 film adaptation, directed by Joseph Losey. The film fleshes out their doll/puppet-master relationship, whereas the play fails to do so. They (as portrayed by Jane Fonda and David Warner) have the perfect relationship. One could give an example or two of Jane chirping and burbling and jumping up and down before Torvald to flesh out one's argument. As long as they never have anything threaten their relationship and cause them to interact or be serious and honest with each other, then it will remain that way. And we all know nothing like that ever happens.

Clint Todd

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