Torvald the Victim

     After reading Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, I absolutely agreed with Nora's decision to leave the house of her husband. Torvald had kept Nora in a pattern that started with her father, and the pattern that she continued with her own children. Scampering around, while doing little tricks for affection and money, was all Nora knew of life.

     Upon seeing Claire Bloom and Anthony Hopkins act out the drama in Patrick Garland's 1973 film version, I felt the exact opposite. It was not Torvald or Nora's father that was to blame. The actions and behavior rested solely on Nora herself, and therefore the responsibility as well. Sure Torvald treated her as her father did, but it was entirely Nora who kept the act going by constantly giving into it.

     I was disgusted Bloom's Nora. She pranced around. She made little chirpy noises like a bird. She twitched her nose as a squirrel would. When her "miracle" did not happen, she pouted like a little girl. All this and she somehow managed to blame her husband for her behavior, and got him to apologize, to say he would reform.

At the end when the two sat down and had a conversation. Nora was in total control. This was unusual, coming from Nora, considering she had always lived by someone else's ideals; but she was not forced to believe anything; she was not a slave. This independence we see at the end of the movie was in her the whole time. She only let it out when her fantasy of Torvald throwing himself on the train tracks came crashing down.

     I doubt that in this moment she had her first enlightening of the situation she was in. She had this problem bottled inside her for much longer and knew about for just as long. Why she chose this moment and never chose it earlier is entirely her fault. She could have had this conversation at anytime. It was only after she got in trouble and then out of it because of another person giving for her, Christine, played by Anna Massey, that she brought the conversation to her husband.

     Torvald did nothing wrong in the manner of which he regarded his wife. She played along with the game and loved it. She found her opportunity to really cut deep into him and went for it. She made him feel sorry for her, when it is she that should feel sorry for herself. She wasted all that time, prancing about like a drunken pixie when she should have been honest with Torvald. I am positive that his behavior would have changed if only she had said something earlier. She hesitated until the time came when it would hurt most.

Paul M. Helwagen

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