A Woman Empowered

        In the 1973 version of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 A Doll’s House, directed by Patrick Garland, I was amazed to find Nora, depicted by Claire Bloom, playing the doormat to her husband, Torvald, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. She struck me as a smart and intelligent woman who did not need a man to stand around and tell her what to do as long as Torvald was not around. However, when Torvald was around, I was struck by how stupid and immature she truly was due to the fact that she was simply expected to behave in such a way. For the time period this behavior was considered acceptable.

        Throughout the movie, Nora is demeaned by her husband and constantly patronized. She does not show her husband that she is truly intelligent because intelligence was not a quality that befitted a woman of her stature. She was expected to simply stand there and look pretty and maybe go shopping once a week. As things begin to unravel we start to see her fall to pieces. She chooses to keep up her deception until her husband discovers the letter about her borrowing money from him and forging her dead father’s signature from Krogstad (Denholm Elliot). That is the point in which the whole movie comes to a head. Torvald is extremely angry and speaks of being ruined. He calls his wife a “stupid girl” and proceeds to slap her. Shortly after, another letter arrives in which Krogstad informs Torvald that he will not take actions and they will keep Nora’s indiscretion between themselves.

        Torvald declares that they are saved, and he does not understand why Nora will not forgive him. She feels as though she has been little more than a doll for him to play with in his perfect home with his children. She sees the pattern repeating itself with her children and remembers Torvald’s willingness to lock her away and keep her children from her. It is at this point that Nora has an epiphany in which she decides that she can no longer live with Torvald and that she needs to make her own way. She realizes that she does not truly know herself as a person, and she feels as though she never truly knew her husband. She sets off to find herself without the stifling effects of her husband, children, or father.

Heather Tromble

Table of Contents