Torvald’s Loss

         Torvald's character in Patrick Garland's 1973 film version of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House was one of great complexity. Played by Anthony Hopkins, Torvald loved his wife Nora, portrayed by Claire Bloom, but did not take her seriously. He chose to look at his wife simply on the surface. Hopkins wonderfully portrayed the negligent behaviors of Torvald toward Nora. He treated her more like a child than the love of his life and, in turn, ignored his children.

         Rather than looking past his wife's childish behavior and seeing her for who she really was, he continued to refer to her as his pet. Not knowing of the great sacrifice Nora had made for him, Torvald took her for granted time and time again. I greatly preferred the version staring Anthony Hopkins. I felt that he was able to seem more overpowering to his wife. In the first 1973 film, directed by Joseph Losey, Torvald's character, as depicted by David Warner, simply ignored her, as acted by Jane Fonda; but Hopkins brought something more to the film. He was able to control his wife much like a doll, as the title reveals.

         Nora's great sacrifice of not only saving her husband's life, but also paying back a large loan on her own, was one that had haunted her every day of her life. She had always felt slightly guilty for hiding such a large secret from Torvald, but she knew it was for his own good. She loved her husband greatly and was obviously willing to do whatever it took to keep him alive and well. As for Torvald, however, he only wanted a spouse for a pet. He loved Nora, but he did not give her the respect she deserved.

         When he finally learned the truth of Nora's deceit, he blew up. Instead of looking at Nora's reasoning for her actions, and the fact that she simply loved her husband unconditionally, his anger grew into rage. Nora quickly saw that Torvald would never be able to truly forgive her. She knew that her disapproving husband would never accept her actions for what they really were, so she left him.

         In the end, Torvald lost. His neglect and domineering personality cost him a wife who was willing to risk it all to protect her husband.

Ashley Roberts

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