Unhappily Ever After?

         In the 1973 film version of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, directed by Patrick Garland, Claire Bloom as Nora and Anthony Hopkins as Torvald look as if they have had a happy marriage. An illustration of the happiness of Claire Bloom's Nora is evident when Anthony Hopkins' Torvald is leaving as he kisses the baby good-bye, while Nora has the baby wave bye to "Daddy." However, this marriage soon has a shocking turn of events, which shatters this illusion. However, in Joseph Losey's version it was obvious that Jane Fonda (Nora) and David Warner (Torvald) have never had the illusion of caring for one another. Therefore, the during the final shocking episode, there are no such illusion to shatter.

         Torvald sees his wife as an "expensive pet to keep" and gives her an allowance. She acts as though she is grateful to receive that portion of his salary to do her duties with. She is much smarter than he gives her credit for, but she still plays his game. Claire Bloom even goes as far to make a chirping sound to humor her husband. Jane Fonda just takes the money excitedly and goes on about her business.

         Both Torvalds are angry with their wives for taking out the loan behind their back to save their respective husbands' lives and forging their dead father's signature in the process. However, unlike Warner's Torvald, who just acts more overtly surly than usual to his unloved Nora, Hopkins' Torvald takes it too far. In stunning contrast to the loving attitude he has previously displayed towards Nora, he now throws an incredible fit. He calls Nora (Claire Bloom) "stupid woman" three times and slaps her. During his rage he does not even give her a chance to explain why she had done what she did. He obviously does not care about her or what she has gone through. Then when receiving the second letter from Krogstad, all he could think of is himself by saying, "I'm saved." I do not understand how he could then completely change his whole attitude (again) and try to be nice to her.

         Bloom's Nora is too smart to put up with the way Hopkin's Torvald has been treating her. With her illusions of a loving marriage so rudely ripped apart, Bloom's Nora is far more adamant than Fonda's Nora, who had never had any such illusions, when voicing her opinion to put Hopkins' Torvad in his place. Therefore, Bloom's Nora is easier to believe when she tells Torvald that she needs to live for herself awhile. Claire Bloom's Nora will survive and prosper from this experience of dealing with the temperamental Anthony Hopkins, but the outcome of Jane Fonda's Nora, who has suffered far less trauma from her experience, is unknown.

Jessica Chandler

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