Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Which portrayal of characterization is better?

Watch the following two interpretations of the opening of Ibsen's A Doll's House & respond to the prompt below:


Directed by George Schaefer; Julie Harris as Nora and Christopher Plummer as Torvald (1959)


Patrick Garland; Claire Bloom as Nora and Anthony Hopkins as Torvald (1973)

Objective: Watch the following two versions (posted above) from the opening of Ibsen's A Doll's House and argue which of the two videos is the best interpretation of either Nora or Torvald's character.
  • Offering your opinion on this subject with specific reasons on why will help you craft a sophisticated thesis.
  • The rest of your essay will go into detail explaining your thesis.
Your critique of the video must be based on your knowledge and understanding of the passage, so you must provide textual evidence from A Doll's House as well as provide descriptions of the video. (I can't watch the video and read your post at the same time, so you need to make me see what you see with your words. It will also help you to take notes on the video while you watch it. Pay attention to what you captures your attention. Notice what you notice!)

Pay attention to:
  • delivery of the lines
  • imagery the setting / scenery
  • the portrayal of the actor
  • lighting & camera effects
  • sound effects or music

Random Notes:

You have the names of the actors and the directors. Make it clear whether you are commenting on Ibsen, the director, the characters, or the actors.

It should be about 1,000 words. Edit and put spaces between paragraphs before you post please!

These should take more than one sitting to complete and show some depth and organizational structure.

I am well aware that neither video follows that play exactly. Your objective is not to point out the differences from the text. Your objective is listed above.

Though this is opinion, there is no need to use first person pronouns, and certainly not the 2nd person.

Some Helpful Hints:

Thesis paragraph:
Should state which movie clip presents the best version of either Nora or Torvald and explain why.
· You may only focus on the movie which is best.
· A sophisticated thesis will explain how characterization is created through author, actor, and director’s techniques.

Body paragraphs:
Should each focus on a specific topic which helps prove your thesis.

· Topic
· Provide context and “integrate evidence from the play”(37).
· Explain how author creates characterization with evidence.
· Explain why the movie version you picked represents this well.
· Give specific evidence (description) from the movie.
· Explain effect(s) of what you see actor doing, or techniques of the director.


You have until Monday 10.18.09 @ noon to complete this assignment.
It is worth 100 points and will be graded by the following rubric.

22 comments:

Stephanie A. said...

Torvald, one of the main characters of, A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, is represented in different movie versions of the play. The 1959 movie directed by George Schaefer, and the 1973 movie directed by Patrick Garland, have their unique takes on Torvald, but the version that has his best representation was the version by Patrick Garland. In Ibsen’s play, Torvald treated Nora as a stern yet loving father would treat a younger daughter. Along with the nicknames he gave Nora, Torvald’s fatherly portrayal could be seen through the ways he scolded his wife’s actions and requests as though they were childish antics. This characterization of Torvald is represented best by director Patrick Garland because the actor who played Torvald portrayed the characteristics of a father rather then a husband.

One characteristic that defined Torvald was the way he treated his wife as a child. In the beginning of act one of Ibsen’s play, Nora comes home and request that her husband come out to see her, “Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have brought” (6). Yet instead of going to her or respectfully declining, he says flat out, “Don’t disturb me” (6). If a parent felt as though they were being bothered by a pestering child, they would say something along the lines of “don’t disturb me.” The disrespect of treating Nora as a child is strongly depicted in Garland’s film. This sense of Torvald looking down upon a child was felt when Torvald questioned Nora about secretly eating macaroons. In the scene, Torvald walks away from Nora and questions her in a stern manner establishing a fear in Nora, only to wag his finger and laugh when Nora hugs him out of guilt. In the same scene from Schaefer, Torvald laughs the matter off as if it were nothing, allowing his wife to hug him in a loving way rather then out of guilt. Garland’s film is a better representation of the Torvald of Ibsen’s play because instead of speaking to Nora as an adult, Torvald deals with her as a child, which establishes the need for Nora to obey him as a their father.

In Ibsen’s play, Torvald also had the characteristic of attending to Nora as a child seeking attention rather than a wife who should be treated as an adult. In Ibsen’s play, after Torvald lectures Nora about his feelings on borrowing money, Nora looses her enthusiasm as a child who did not get their way. Then as an obedient child, she responds “as you please Torvald” (7). Torvald realizing his childish wife’s disappointment decides to spoil her. Going from stern to bribing her happiness, Torvald gives her exactly what she wanted and her enthusiasm is back as she cries out “Money!” (7). Like parents who can often instinctively sense disappointment in a child who doesn’t find their way, Torvald in the movie see’s his wife’s disappoint and knows exactly the reason why and how to fix the manner. Garland’s version better depicts Torvald’s instinct to act as a father, going from a lecture to giving Nora what she wanted anyhow. In the scene, Torvald lectures her on the reasons why they can’t borrow money and insults her by saying “that’s so typical of a women.” Seeing her discontent in the comment, Torvald takes out money and regains her happiness.

Stephanie A. said...

The Torvald of Garland’s play better depicts him physically as well as in his gestures. Often times when a person feels or is significantly older then someone, they do not feel the need to give that person the same amount of respect as a younger person would feel the need to give them. Torvald’s sense of seniority is clear in Ibsen’s play. In Ibsen’s play, Torvald easily looks down upon his wife calling her child like names such as “my little squirrel” (6) and “my little skylark” (7). Of course nicknames are often given when one admires someone but squirrels and skylarks give the connotation of one who is always hurrying about or up to something as a child would be. Also in the play, the gesture he makes to his wife when he scolds her “wagging his finger” (9) gives the appearance of an adult of someone who is older interacting with a smaller child. In Garland’s movie, not only does Torvald act out these gestures of one who is older, but Torvald looks considerably older than Nora. Nora looks like she’s in her twenties or maybe even younger thirties with her brunette hair and smooth skin while Torvald with his beard and mustache and hair on the verge of graying hair looks like he could be anywhere from fifty into his early sixties. Because the age difference can be physically seen, Torvald looking down upon his younger wife is clearly shown and although not justifiable because either way they are both adults who are married to one another, it is understandable.

The Torvald of Schaefer’s version of Ibsen’s play seemed to be less strict with Nora but rather loving. The relationship between Torvald and Nora seem less as a father and a child and more like a couple in love. He immediately came out when he heard Nora singing and barley argued for long with Nora when it came to eating the macaroons, even apologizing and saying he was only joking about Nora going against his wishes. In addition, the Torvald of Schaefer’s version of the film looked just as young as Nora. When Torvald scolded Nora for the macaroons, Nora hug him more as one in love when compared to Garland’s version when Nora actually looks guilty and gives Torvald a hug out of guilt. Garland’s version of the play was a better representation because the sense of guilt and Nora looking up to Torvald as a father was clear. Torvald of Garland’s did of course seem to love Nora but was more like a fatherly figure, ready to scold when his little wife said or acted in ways he saw as immature, and giving a worse case lecture in order to show Nora how much she needed him and should listen as a parent would do to a child.

In conclusion, Patrick Garland’s 1973 version of Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll House, had a better representation of Torvald. From the age that he looked to his gestures and commentary towards his wife Nora, Garland’s version of the play successfully characterized Torvald because the play was able to depict him as a fatherly figure rather then a husband.

Kellie said...

After viewing both scenes from the play “A Doll’s House”, it is clear that the second video, directed by Patrick Garland best represents Torvald as he is seen in Ibsen’s original play. In the book, Torvald is very demeaning and serious which is clearly seen in Garland’s version of the play. Through his overall performance as a very serious and unfriendly man, Anthony Hopkins correctly displays himself as the man in the original book. His body language and tone most definitely aids his performance as well. Because this version of the play was made more recently than the other version, the portrayal of Torvald might be more realistic and precise in comparison to a play that was interpreted in the late 1950’s when acting was not as dramatic as the 1970’s. Though Anthony Hopkins plays a major role in the depiction of Torvald, Garland does an accurate job of focusing on Torvald’s characteristics indirectly. Through the reaction of other characters in the play and the environment Torvald is set in, Garland impacts the play drastically in pointing out the more unfriendly and mean side of Torvald as it is actually seen in the original piece. This version of the play does an accurate job of incorporating all of Ibsen’s facts, while also pointing out the bigger pictures that Ibsen hints at in his dialogue.

An important factor in portraying a piece of work is the environment in which that work is set in. In Garland’s interpretation, the family lives in a very extravagant house. By giving a wide view of the house and the grand layout in the beginning, the director hints that they are in the upper class and are quite wealthy. This corresponds to the book because Isben continually points out their wealth when Torvald gives Nora money numerous times. The fact that Garland’s interpretation is more recent may also be more pleasing to the senses, making the family seem more modern and wealthy.

A major contribution of Hopkins’ acting was his tone and emotion. The way he delivered his lines made his character change. In the book, Torvald questions Nora after he suspects her of eating a macaroon after he deliberately told her not to do so. Isben starts off with Helmer wagging his finger at Nora, “Hasn’t Miss Sweet-Tooth been breaking rules in town today”(9)? Though Isben’s written dialogue does not exaggerate Torvald’s anger or tone of accusation, it is clearly seen in the fact that he questions Nora in the first place. Garland makes Torvald come across as very angry and disappointed in Nora after he finds out she had visited the confectioners. It did not need to be pointed out in Isben’s dialogue that Torvald was suspicious of Nora even after she refused his first accusation. The fact that Hopkins swept his hand against Bloom’s mouth shows that he knew she was eating macaroons. Even though in the play he does not directly state that he knows, it is assumed that he does in his questioning her. Torvald’s tone was clearly demeaning and accusing, which was definitely seen in Garland’s interpretation and Bloom’s reaction.

Kellie said...

When it comes to acting, Hopkins contributed greatly to the portrayal of Torvald. Hopkins’ gestures related greatly to that of Isben’s portrayal. In Isben’s short play, Torvald was viewed much older than Nora. Instead of addressing Helmer by his first name, Nora addressed him by his last name, which a very formal way of addressing a husband. On the other hand, Torvald was free to call Nora demeaning and pathetic pet names such as his “little lark” (6) or “little squirrel” (6). There was obviously a respect issue on Torvald’s part, but that respect issue was greater emphasized in Hopkins’ character. Hopkins’ character does a better job of distinguishing that respect barrier because Torvald treated Nora as a child. It is even seen in the scene where Hopkins scares Bloom after accusing her of eating macaroons.

Another important issue that Hopkins points out is his control over Nora. Torvald uses money as a way to control Nora. Torvald’s control over Nora is seen throughout most of Isben’s play, especially when Nora states that “[she] should not think of going against [his] wishes” (9) after merely eating a harmless candy. What this version of the play does best is show that control directly. In the portrayal by Hopkins, he holds up the money and teases Nora while she screams “Money” after every ten dollar bill he gives her. He does not humanely hand over the money, but he hands it to her as if she is a child. In this specific point of the play, their relationship is viewed as one of a father and his child. This control Isben gives Torvald has clearly been portrayed by Hopkins.

In Isben’s version of the play, Torvald is very mature compared to Nora. Torvald is not only more mature, but he looks down upon Nora in some ways. Through the name calling, Torvald shows no respect for Nora as she does. Torvald also reveals a general idea about women. It is not seen until the last scene where Torvald calls Nora “silly” without any playfulness. He intentionally tells her that she does not know what she is talking about. Obviously, Torvald has the idea in his head that men are superior to women. It is clearly portrayed in Garland’s version because of the utter control and power Torvald has over Nora. One important line in Garland’s play was directed at Nora, “so typical of a woman”. What this portrayal does, is that it incorporates everything that Isben’s play did, but it exaggerates the key points of the play. It highlights the societal issues Isben points out indirectly.

Body language is another method Hopkins used to get his point across. Even in the very first seconds of the play, he played the part of Torvald by showing hostility towards Nora. When she first walked into his office, Hopkins looked too busy to care about what she was saying. The audience could tell Nora was a pest to Hopkins, while he was working.

On that note, Patrick Garland’s 1973 portrayal of Torvald is more accurate in relation to Isben’s original play. Garland shows the audience the real issues that Isben points out in Torvald. The societal conflict arisen from Torvald was explored and magnified by Garland and Hopkins. Instead of following the exact formula Isben created, they followed a similar formula, creating a more direct means of pointing out the general conflict brought up by Isben.

Stephany J. said...

Patrick Garland’s portrayal of the opening scene in Henrik Ibsen’s, A Doll’s House, depicts Nora Helmer exactly how the audience envisioned her to be. Claire Bloom has captured the typical naïve and frivolous behavior exhibited by Nora when it comes to her husband, Trovald Helmer. The relationship of Nora and Trovald portrayed by Claire Bloom and Anthony Hopkins is captured through line delivery and body language so that the audience is able to capture the essence of these two characters.

When the scene begins to unfold Nora enters dressed lavishly in extravagant furs from head to toe, which signals that money comes and goes freely in the Helmer household. Even though the Helmer’s are not exactly wealthy Nora feels the need to make it her first priority. Throughout the scene Nora is practically begging Trovald to “be a bit more reckless (4)” since she has already anticipated how she will spend his “big salary”. She speaks excitedly about what she wants to do, but Trovald dismisses her ideas almost instinctively. Trovald’s reaction to her petty whims do not even convey the impression of taking his wife seriously. Nora’s frivolous antics results in Trovald continuous need to treat her as if she was one of the children. Garland makes the audience ponder whether or not Helmer has given Nora a lecture about her actions. By the way Bloom and Hopkins retort “thoughtless” in unison in regard to her behavior shows that this is a reoccurring issue within the household.

Nora continuous to act oblivious in situations with others even though she knows exactly what she wants. Her physical attributes are used for her own personal gain, because without them should would no have half of what she does now. Nora tends to go around the subject playfully so that she is able to string her husband along while she plays aimlessly with his coat buttons. Garland chooses to have Bloom and Hopkins in this position to show that with the aid of her physical attributes anything is possible. When Helmer asks her if there was anything he could be her to placate her she acts as if she doesn’t know. Yet, she gets up from his lap and wanders to the other side of the room where she admits to Helmer that she simply wishes for some “money” (5).

Nora’s child-like behavior is exhibited when Helmer questions Nora id she has “taken a bite of a macaroon or two” (6). Bloom acts like a child who has been caught red handed doing something that she was forbidden from. It is like she has been reduced to a child who is trying to get her father to believe that she did exactly as she was told; even though she deliberately went behind his back and at a macaroon. Garland shows Nora’s status within the relationship when Helmer wipes the corner of her mouth and tastes it to double check if Nora told him a blatant lie to his face. Helmer’s degrading behavoir toward Nora is part of the reason why his wife acts the way that she does. As a result, Nora has formulated a specific persona to use around her husband so that she is able to keep her sanity. Helmer only views Nora as his little “skylark”(4) and nothing more.

Stephany J. said...

The behavior of the main characters, Nora and Helmer, is exemplified by the technique used by Bloom and Hopkins. As actors it is they’re duty to take risks to depict the main characters the way that Henrik Ibsen previously envisioned. In he opening scene Garland creates two conflicting levels of dominance within the Helmer household. Helmer described to be the typical, dominant male within the relationship because Nora allows him to think in this manner. The audience is able to realize that decisions are made only by Helmer without the input of his wife. Still, Nora attempts to add her personal input, but her attempts are in vain. As the scene continues Helmer is busy at work dealing with paperwork that probably involves his promotion at the bank. Nora’s passive attempt to gain a voice in the relationship is apparent with how her husband communicates with her. Bloom continues to float around the scene waiting for her co-star, Hopkins, to give her some slack. Sadly, he does not budge and her initial plans to convey her ideas are dismissed immediately without a second thought. Bloom’s ability to show why Nora does not have the ability to do or say as she pleases creates some sympathy for the main character, Nora. At the same time Nora enables how her husband continues to treat her because she does nothing drastic to stop degrading her.

After comparing the first and second interpretations in its entirety it was simple to choose which video that I was going to further analyze. The second interpretation accurately interprets A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. I chose this video over the first interpretation that was directed by George Schaefer because of how the actors decided to act out the behavior of Nora and Helmer. The first video made it seem as if Helmer respected what his wide actually said. Schaefer’s perception of Ibsen’s play seemed to depict the two main characters too averagely. While Garland’s interpretation shows the audience immediately the power Helmer has over his wife. Nora’s wardrobe shows that her husband takes care of her extravagant needs, but at the cost of her dignity. Another deal breaker was that the first perception was in black and white. Even though the time period was the reason for this, the color used in Garland’s interpretation added another level to the play as a whole. The characters in general seemed much more lively in comparison to Schafer’s.

In conclusion, Henrik Ibsen expressed to the audience that Nora was the “doll” that was mentioned in the title. Helmer made sure that she was perfect so she was the envy of others. In actuality, Nora is simply a pawn used to remind himself that his thoughts and ideas mean much more then those of his wife.

Jackie said...

After viewing both George Schaefer and Peter Garland’s versions of the play, it is clear that George Schaefer’s version is much more accurate. Plummer’s portrayal of Torvald physically as well as acting and gestures is also very accurate. Through this version it is clear how Torvald treats Nora as a child and a doll. Torvald is more serious than Nora and he is very controlling. He toys with her with money and authority as her husband. Plummer’s great performance of this is shown through his body language as well as his tone, and facial expressions. However though Schaefer makes Nora(Harris) the focus, Plummer’s subtle yet strong performance of Torvald shines true to Ibsen’s version of Torvald.
Schaefer’s version also stays true to the play through the set and scenery. In the movie the set is nicely decorated but not too overdone like that of Garland’s interpretation. This stay’s true to the “room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not extravagantly” of the play. The set and scenery add to how Torvald controls Nora with money. This is apparent when Nora comes in with all the gifts and they begin talking about last year’s Christmas Tree. The scenery also reflects the current financial situation of the Helmer’s which is also the topic Nora and Torvald discuss saying “we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn’t we? Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn lots and lots of money.” Torvalds stern reaction to this shows how he thinks of Nora as childish and frivolous. However in Garland’s interpretation the set is more elaborate and extravagant, and though this my show how Torvald thinks of Nora as a spendthrift, it does not stay true the characters or the actual play.
Plummer as an actor also fits the visual image that the play projects of Torvald. Torvald is portayed as a serious, somewhat graying, older man. Though he is not old, he is older than Nora, perhaps in his thirties. He holds himself confidently and he is clearly under the impression that he is more mature than Nora. This is also shown through Plummers body language and gestures. The way he holds and touches is how a father would touch and hold his daughter. For example in the play he says “Nora! (goes up to her and takes her playfully by the ear.) The same little featherhead!” By touching and treating Nora like this he is belittling her and making her seem as though she can not do anything that an adult like himself can do. Also when Torvald(Plummer) discovers that Nora has been eating macaroons he scolds her and lightly slaps her hand like he would a child. Plummers gestures show that he doesn’t pay much mind to Nora’s actions or her responsibilities as a housewife or a mother. Though Anthony Hopkins does have certain gestures that could hold true to the play in that he looks too old, too much like a father to her and his gestures are also to overwhelmingly father like to be a husband.

Jackie said...

What makes Schaefer’s version most accurate is Plummers tone throughout the whole scene. The way he talks to Nora is very important in how Ibsen and Schaefer convey to the audience the relationship and how Torvald treats and thinks of Nora. Plummer’s tone with Nora is like that of how a father would speak to his daughter in that he doesn’t talk to her like an equal, he talks down to her, at time scolding her. Though there is love and playfulness in their dialogue it is not the kind seen in a normal marriage. Though Ibsen does not make a distinct reference to Torvalds tone in the play the dialogue does convey how an audience or an actor would interpret it. This is exemplified in when Torvald gives Nora money for housekeeping he taunts her as he pulls the money out “Nora, what do you think I have got here?” He says it mockingly as though taunting her like a parent would taunt a child with a brand new toy. Plummer also uses great tone when he comes out of his office to see what Nora has bought. In the play Torvald says “Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been spending money again?” Plummer does this with the right mixture of disappointment, sternness and playfulness that Ibsen would want to convey. Also it shows how Torvald thinks he is superior to Nora because it is his money she is spending. In Garland’s version Hopkins tone sounds too much like a father and not enough like a husband. His tone makes him sound too old and it sounds unnatural. Plummer’s tone sounds comfortable and confident in his position and relationship with Nora. The way Torvald acts and carries himself is also very important in how Schaefer’s version is more accurate than Garlands. Plummer carries himself with confidence. It is clear that he acts more mature than Nora and takes things more seriously than she does. This is also seen in what he calls her as well, he call her “skylark” and “spendthrift” name that make her seem inferior to him.”
Though both interpretations held true to certain aspects of Ibsen’s play, Schaefers version as a whole has more that shows the true character of Torvald and how he would be portrayed in the play. All that was scene in this version is in the original in the play, though some dialogue is different the features that are significant like the set, tone and body language only enhance and make more real what Ibsen writes in the play. Instead of making the message of the play clearer, Garland’s version only makes the ply more agreeable to the Hollywood eye, though it makes it enjoyable to watch, it strays from the play leaving out key features that take away from the relationship between Nora and Torvald which in turn takes away from the overall theme of the scene and play.

hillary said...

Through careful analysis of both videos and novel, Patrick Garland’s interpretation of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is arguably the more accurate depiction of Ibsen’s original intent. Applying the techniques of colorization, atmospheric music and through Claire Bloom’s flexible acting skills of, Garland is able to present his personal interpretation of the play and the characters. The factors of setting and character interactions bring about a relatable understanding of Garland’s perception of Nora’s character. Nora, the happy-go-lucky protagonist and wife of the rich Torvald Helmer, is perhaps classier than that of Schaefer’s video, but she also demonstrates a greater sense of intrigue and cunning.


The video starts out with a wintery setting that shows the date of Christmas nearing. A chiming and happy Christmas tune plays whilst Nora returns to a comfortable and humble middle-class home. She sneaks a macaroon or two into her mouth and hides the rest, afraid that Torvald would find out and scold her for going against his wishes. Here, she already shows her role as a woman living in the 1800s – a wife yearning for freedom, yet afraid of her husband’s rules. Torvald calls out to his “squirrel” (6) and she enters his room, showering fast spendthrift excuses on her financially wary husband. Notice how she lets her husband call her these many pet names, whereas the other video depicted a more outspoken Nora. She then says, “Torvald, this year we can really let ourselves go a little” (6) whilst trying to pry his eyes away from his work. Already, her deviously flirtatious personality emerges because her ultimate goal is to squeeze out any amount of money from her husband. Bloom’s acting captures Nora’s antsy nature. The interesting thing is that she is able to do so without being loud and exaggerated in his words/actions.


In the same conversation, Nora finishes some of Torvald’s sentences as if this conversation were done out many times before. She then walks behind his chair and hugs him from behind. Nora says many things that make Torvald absolutely smitten with her, and she chooses to say such things, no matter how irrational or silly, with intent. The subtle flirting that pursues between the couple demonstrates Nora’s consciousness of her purpose. Torvald says, “That is so typical of a woman,” (6) but Nora does not refute any objections to his sexist remark. She subjects herself to becoming a target of belittlement. Bloom does well as to show the offense that Nora must have felt but had to conceal with a poker face. Her poker face is rather interpreted as anger. Torvald had already known her intent as well, but still plays the name-calling game to continue their casual teasing.


He often refers to her as his “little skylark” (7), a term that may seem loving but can also suggest sarcastic arrogance from a person of higher position in age and in gender. However, Nora brushes his pet names aside and plays along, even going to the lengths of making cute animal noises alongside a knowing smile with greedy, glimmering eyes. Bloom acts Nora out as a rather conniving character but it works because it ties in with Ibsen’s original intent that Nora resort herself to situations such as this to get what she wants. She has come to expect “lots and lots of money” (6) from him because all of her needlework, crotchet-work and embroideries

hillary said...

could not pay off enough of her secret debt. This is not perhaps the best way to get what she wants, but it is the easiest way.


There is a sudden burst of energy when Torvald hands her the money. She has gotten what she was after and becomes a perkier and more grateful wife. Bloom made sure to highlight this significant shift in Nora’s personality. Her exuberance creates a livelier atmosphere to the video. Not only is there this major shift, but this particular scene tells the audience a bit more about Nora’s character. Immediately after she is pleased with Torvald’s gift, she shows him all of the “cheap” (7) gifts she had purchased. She tries to break away from her spendthrift label and attempts to demonstrate that she can be an adult and worry over money as well. Drawing from context, we can sense that Nora is always trying to show her true self in some way, but her childish behavior always becomes useful for every other moment in her life.


The last part of the video is when Torvald questions Nora of her encounter with sweets, namely macaroons. She easily denies anything to do with macaroons, concluding with “I should not think of going against your wishes” (9). Torvald, however, proves his suspicions correct and Nora buries her head in his chest out of panic. This is also another one of her sly maneuvers when she is ever in need of sympathy. Nora tends to dodge problems, and by breaking eye contact Bloom effectively enables Nora to get away with her little lie. Ibsen created Nora’s character with the intent of having her be charming enough to cover up her slip ups. According to her surrounding family and friends, she was much too much of a “child” (38) to be taken too seriously.


Garland’s decisions to portray the play in this manner should not only be credited to the actors. It would not be fair to compare video qualities since they come from different time periods, but the effect of the improved picture quality did wonders for Garland’s video as a whole. Without the color, the video would have come off as much more boring and would have given the air of Christmas a duller image. Schaefer’s video highlighted the sexism through its introduction song, but Garland did not need to do so because Anthony Hopkins did an exceptionally good job at actually acting out the gender superiority. Garland’s music added to the humble atmosphere that is described in the beginning of Act 1.


Patrick Garland’s 1973 interpretation of Nora in A Doll’s House definitely fulfills Ibsen’s character intentions for her. Although both the book and the video seem to highlight Nora’s childish behavior, both achieve a deeper underlying aspect to Nora’s personality. The audience walks away with an intrigue in the complexity of Nora’s seemingly simple character.

SamP1 said...

Two clips of the opening of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House portray both Nora and Torvald Helmer in their own unique ways. The first, directed by George Schaefer clearly depicts Nora’s childish personality. The Patrick Garland version, however more accurate to the actual lines of the play, shows Nora in a more manipulative light. Schaefer’s version represents the interpretation of Nora acting more like Torvald’s young daughter than his wife, which is what Ibsen wanted for the character of Nora in Torvald’s presence. Because of Julie Harris’s chemistry with Christopher Plummer, and the decisions made by Schaefer allowed the character to be played in a more accurate presentation of Nora.

One of Schaefer’s first decisions that led Harris to play such a true illustration of Nora was when Nora, when walking in the door, immediately drops one of the boxes she is carrying. The clumsy disposition of Nora as soon as the play starts helps establish Nora’s character, but it is left out of the play itself. In Ibsen’s original, Nora walks in and places the parcels down on the table. The small inclusion of showing physically of a clumsy side of Nora helped Schaefer get his point across about her child-like personality. When concerning her children, Nora relates to them in a way that makes her seem like a child herself. A specific line from the clip talks about how they needed to eat their treats before “Daddy comes out and scolds [them].” (2:00) The line is just like something that a small child like hers would have said. It shows that she can relate to her children much better than an average mother, and another point in the play where this is shown, in Ibsen’s original version, is when she is playing all kinds of games with them when “she and the children laugh and shout, and romp in and out of the room.” (Ibsen 24) Her childish personality is shown here through her ability to relate and joke and play with her children so well. She knows what they like and takes part in playing their games.

Nora’s relationship with Torvald is relatively orthodox for this time period, but in Schaefer’s portrayal of the two characters, Nora is shown as less of a wife, and more of a daughter. The similarities between the play and video are clear in its intentions with Nora. During the play, it is shown through text, in lines such as “What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? Nora, what do you think I have got here?” (7) The question is playing a game with Nora, but he is not teasing her. He plays this game to entertain her, and that is more fatherly. In the video, this line is omitted, but the feeling isn’t lost, because Torvald still makes it seem that way when he refers to her as his “little spendthrift” along with playing games when he accuses her of eating sweets when he disapproves of them. She knows that she did have the sweets, but she plays a child’s game and tells him she would never do that. The tendencies that Nora and Torvald’s relationship shows clarity with Nora’s intended behavior.

The video and the play itself have two spot on interpretations of Nora. Schaefer took Ibsen’s words and Julie Harris was able to bring words on a page into life on screen, complimented by Christopher Plummer. The way he and Harris interacted allowed Nora’s true personality (that is, when she’s with Torvald) shine through and allow her childish persona be seen.

Jess said...

In the opening scenes of these two interpretations of A Doll's House, Patrick Garland's does a much better job at portraying Torvald than George Schaefer, in my opinion.

To start, I must clarify that I made this decision based on how we are supposed to view Torvald in the first scene, without any context of the later story. With this in mind, we are supposed to see them from the start as a seemingly happy, but also sort of shallow relationship. Hopkins does a good job at showing this, while Plummer's Torvald is too serious from the get-go, insisting on the theme of sexism right away instead of starting out "happy" and showing a shift.

The most obviously sexist part of Garland's version is when Torvald is holding up the money for Nora as if she were a dog. While this is a very direct way to show their relationship, it is also very good at showing it's lack of depth. He holds up the money as if she were a dog, and instead of being offended, she makes bark-like noises and gets excited, just like she were a dog herself. When it comes to communication, it is very obvious that he does not see that she is fit to be addressed as a person, but more as a pet. This is shown again near the end of this clip, where rather than calling her over, he motions with his finger for her to come, and she does, once again just like a dog. In Ibsen's play, at this part he doesn't call her over, but he directly says "Look straight at me." (pg 6) and she does, but it does not suggest her going towards him. After, however, it says in parentheses for Torvald "(Going up to her)" (pg 6) which shows his initiative. I liked Hopkins' gesture more, though, because it emphasized their relationship in status but was still subtle. Like I said before, I didn't expect this part to be this obvious at the beginning, but I still think that this worked well enough to consider Hopkins' Torvald better than Plummer's. Plummer's Torvald was much too serious and forcing of the theme. Schaefer's version, Nora is shown as a fully compassionate human being in this scene. A very large amount of time is spent showing her interactions with her kids, and she clearly loves them very much.

Jess said...

A big difference between the two is that in Schaefer's version, Nora takes the macaroons and gives them to her children, and only takes one for herself under their insistence. In Garland's she takes the macaroons for her own enjoyment. (While this post is emphasizing the difference between Hopkins' and Plummer's portrayal of Torvald, I have to point this out because how we view Nora in each scene will alter our opinions of that Torvald.) Thus, in Garland's version we are more likely to see her as sort of rebellious, even if it is just a small treat behind Torvald's back, while in Schaefer's we see her as caring, only going against his wishes for the happiness of the children. This makes him look worse for not wanting to spend extra money to make his children happy on Christmas with more presents. This, with his very serious tone from the very start, makes him a character it is too easy to dislike, once again strengthening the fact that Schaefer's version is forcing the theme onto the audience. In Ibsen's version, the theme of sexism was not this obvious from the very first scene, so I don't think it does as good of a job as Garland's.

Also, in Garland's version, when they start talking about money, Nora is sitting on his lap and persuading him that it is okay to spend a little more money. At this point, every time she reaches out to play with his hair, hold his hand, etc. he swats her away. This was a very good choice for Hopkin's character, because it once again shows the inferior relationship, swatting her off as if she were a child tugging on your shirt trying to get your attention or a dog wanting a treat. Nothing more than a distraction, but not a top priority. This is shown again in his reluctance to go see what she had bought for Christmas. "Well I, I.. Yes, alright." Similar to the attitude one has to a child who is very proud of a painting or something they had made. In Ibsen's version, he does not interrupt her in such a way, and is quiet as she talks about all the children's presents. (pg 5)

Jen said...

From the following two versions from the opening of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, the best interpretation of Torvald’s character is by Patrick Garland created in 1973. Henrik Ibsen created Torvald’s character as a sophisticated individual. His character comes off as being in control and as being very cocky, and controlling. He treats Nora with no respect, and continually treats her as one would a child.
Anthony Hopkins delivers the lines similar to how Ibsen’s character would talk to Nora. The character‘s dressed in perfectly tailored suit, he carries himself very well, as a confident powerful individual would. His hair’s fixed perfectly, and he wars an eyeglass which portrays the rich man picture. He evens wear a ring on his pinky. The way Torvald talked to Nora, it seemed like he was talking to a puppy. His tone was very demeaning; it was as if he was talking to a child.
During the scene, when she went in the room, he acted like she was a nuisance; he pushed her off his lap, and didn’t even want to carry a conversation with her, he acted like talking to her was annoying. The actor makes Torvald seem like a jerk. All those nicknames he uses for Nora, shows that he doesn’t consider her as his equal. The text states ‘Come, come, my little skylark must not droop her wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? (taking out his purse) Nora, what do you think I have got here?(p.7)’For example, when Nora asked him for money, the way he made her beg for every dollar, was very degrading, and insulting. He waved the money in her face, teasing her; it showed the control he has over her. The way he actually made little sounds acting like a squirrel, while he was looking all serious, and victorious.
In another scene when they were going through the presents, the way they were standing was also saying something. She was sitting down on the floor, while he was leaning on the arm of the chair, staring down at her. He didn’t even touch anything, it seemed like he was just trying to satisfy a bothersome child’s wish so that he could be left alone, or as if he couldn’t be bothered with female things.

Jen said...

Throughout the whole Act his tone stayed the same. He talked down to her, and acted like she’s an annoyance, that’s interrupting him and his important work. His character treats her like a child throughout, or like woman aren’t important enough, or smart enough to understand the difficult lives of men. Like when he says ‘Just like a woman (p.6) ‘, when she say she wouldn’t care about who he borrowed from if he were to die. For example, when he was talking to her about being a spendthrift, he said it in a sing- song voice, as if reminding a child a lesson that was supposed to be learned. The text states, ‘Don’t disturb me (a little later, he opens the door and looks, into the room pen in hand) Bought did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again? (p.6) something else that stood out was how he’s involved in every little aspect of her life. He asked her if she’s been eating candy. The way he showed that, was really disrespectful, and fresh. He took his pinky touched the corner of her mouth, and placed it his mouth. The whole time he seemed very, confident, and arrogant, because he knew that he is the one in control, and that he has every right over his wife.
The setting helped the actor portray Torvald very well. The study room in the beginning, had a desk, papers lying on it, and the vibe of the room felt very manly, which demonstrated other things, like who has power. When they moved to the living room everything looked all feminine, because it was Nora’s place as a woman, so Torvald didn’t really fit in there. In this video the characters’ home was very elegant, and lavish. It showed their status in society, which also helped Torvald’s character.
This version of the play clearly demonstrates how Torvald plays around with Nora, like she’s a doll that can be used and put away once he’s done playing with her. The way he treated her with the money, and how he dint want to go see the presents with her after giving what she wanted. This actor was able to portray Torvald’s view of women. In this version he leaves her with no dignity, because of the way he talks to her or the way he treats her, and all those comments he keep repeating, like her being ‘thoughtless’’ and calling her a ‘spendthrift.’

Gaelle said...

In the play A Doll's House by Henrick Ibsen, Torvald was portrays as a strict and serious person. That’s exactly what the second video directed by Patrick Garland presented. Anthony Hopkins played the role of Torvald which he did a pretty good job, through out the play he acted as a serious person; he act like his in charge of everything’s for Garland, he also did an awesome job, by presenting exactly what Ibsen what was trying to say about Torvald. In the play Torvald treat Nora as child, he give her nicknames ,and I thought Garland shows that clearly in the video, especially the way that Helmer acted, or the way he spoke, let's just say his tone of voice was very clear in the video.

When watching the video directed by Patrick Garland, the thing that stands out to me was his tone of voice. Anthony Hopkins made Torvald more serious, especially the part Nora wanted Torvald to give her more money for Christmas present, he said " I know, you know that you spently use on house keeping, and all sort of useless things", Nora responded " Not fair how can you say that, I spend as much as I can" .Torvald responded "As much as you can comes to nothing".the way he said out that part was really straight forward, he was really serious about it, he was speaking his mind. In the book, the way Ibsen presents Torvald lines, he put Helmer: (Smiling)" That's very true, all you can. But you can't seem to save anything "pg 6. Thought this part was so much better the way Patrick Garland present it, then the way Ibsen did .The way Ibsen present it, it seems like he was playing around, and messing with her. While Garland on the other hand, shows truly what type of person Torvald is, how Torvald would react.

Another big part in the play that a stands was how Torvald treats Nora. He treats Nora like children he even have nicknames for her." Come, come my little skylark must not droop her wings" pg 4.It's like Nora was a toy to him, whatever he wanted Nora to do , she would of have done it. The thing about Torvald treating Nora as child is that Nora doesn’t seem to mind being treated like a doll. She seems pretty relaxed about it. Especially when she needed the money, she knows her way around; she plays her position so well. Torvald knows what kind of women she is, and what kind of women he has. Garland presented it just like that in his video, before Torvald gave money to Nora, she acted like a squirrel for him. Which was unbelievable? But he presented it more seriously, the way Torvald suppose to act.

Jen said...

The interpretation of Torvald’s character is by Patrick Garland was better than that by George Schaefer because he was able to create a better scene, which helped portray Torvald even better. The character, used the right tone, and body language, because it’s how Ibsen’s character is also.

Gaelle said...

Anthony Hopkins was a best fit for this part, he acts perfectly like Torvald. The man of the house, nothing should happen without his permission. Unlike George Schaefer, he did a poor job representing Torvald. He seems to be cool, relaxed, and the other qualities that don’t fit Torvald. It's not that he did a poor job, it just that he just wasn't fit for this part. First he wasn't as serious, or strong on his words when he was speaking to Nora, it's like everything he told Nora, he laughing about it. It kind of reminds me of Ibsen, come to think about it, Ibsen kind of portrays Torvald in some part of the play not serious, but rather cool and relaxed. At the beginning of the play, Ibsen didn't really present Torvald, as a strict person, but rather just playful with his wife, but as the play moves on to the second, and third part of the play that’s when, Ibsen finally shows the true side of Torvald. The question is why did Ibsen start out the play with Torvald, being playful and finish it showing the real side of Torvald. That's why definitely the Patrick Garland video is the best one that represents Nora, because through Anthony Hopkins shows the real Torvald, he acted like a way a man of a house supposes to act.

Mr.Garland and Mr. Schaifer did a very nice job in the video with the setting. But Mr.Garland character, Anthony had a way he deliver those lines, made it seems the real thing, like he knew what he was doing, and his gestures goes definitely with Torvald. The Setting how he started the reindeer in the snow, and then he switch it to Ms .Nora ringing the bell, had a load of presents in her hands, was an outstanding choice; it shows it was really in Christmas, that the play took place in. Mr. Garland really portrays the play it supposes to be, he didn’t add anything new, like in Mr.schaifer video, he had the kids in his video. Which In Ibsen play, the kid’s wasn’t even in the play .Garland didn’t really focus on unnecessary things, he really focuses on the play, the setting. He made sure that his character comes out the way they suppose to, also how to deliver their lines. Overall Anthony made his point of view of Torvald, like a serious, control person that he is , treats Nora like his little pet, “ squirrel”, in the video directed by Garland , Nora literally acted has a squirrel to get what she wanted .Anthony made her beg, and he was a serious about it to.

In Conclusion, Patrick did a good job overall. He chose the right person to play Mr. Torvald. Anthony really shows who Torvald, as a serious and man of the house and the setting was quite marvelous, the way Patrick portrays the setting, shows how wealthy the Helmer family was. Well everyone has different point of views, so that’s the video portrays each character differently. In Mr.schaifer video, Julie Harris plays Nora character pretty well, while in Mr. Garland, Anthony was the outstanding person, he’s the perfect fit for Torvald .

Jen said...

The interpretation of Torvald’s character is by Patrick Garland was better than that by George Schaefer because he was able to create a better scene, which helped portray Torvald even better. The character, used the right tone, and body language, because it’s how Ibsen’s character is also.

oliviak said...

I am very interested in poetry, not really writing it, but reading the works of others. At the poetry festival, I got the chance to not only read poetry, but listen to it as well. I got a little tour of downtown Lowell where all the readings were taking place, so I was able to stop in and listen. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to get the names of some of the poets I heard, but they were all very interesting. Listening to poetry definitely gives it a better understanding. Every one of the poets that I heard read with emotion and passion, and I felt that I could either relate to them or at least understand what it was they were writing about. They’re topics varied, but all of them seemed to have a sullen tone. Regardless, they were thought provoking and I got some inspiration out of them. It was an enjoyable experience and I’m glad that I went.

Sandy. J said...

From the two clips that I watched, Patrick Garland's interpretation of Ibsen's "A Dollhouse" is closer to Ibsen's portrayal. In the beginning of the movie, Garland establishes the plot with snow and someone on a sleigh, which displays the Christmas spirit. The lighting is a little dim; Garland purposefully did that because he wanted to create the mood of their marriage and its internal appearance. In George Schafer’s version, the clip started with a doll, which was a clever idea, but Ibsen didn’t really have any reference to a doll apart from the title itself. Also Shafer showed the kids in the beginning, which can mislead the audience as to what the author’s purpose was. The play is more about Torvald and his treatment of Nora than them as a real typical family whose main focus is their children. Shafer putting that in the beginning of the play mmight make the audience digress from Torvald and Nora’s relationship and the events occurring concerning their marriage.In henrik Ibsen's "A Dollhouse", Torvald is crucial to the play as a whole. His character epitomizes the rich man who's married to a woman that likes to spend a lot. He also treats his wife Nora as a child, using nicknames such as "little squirrel" and "Little featherhead" (pg 4). Those nicknames are more than simply nicknames; they represent how he doesn't really take her seriously. His meaning is condescending between those nicknames, and Nora is passive because she allows him to call her those names and she acts on their significance. Both of the clips show Torvald’s character as the rich husband, but Shaefer’s interpretation of Torvald seems genuine, and the names he used towards Nora were just innocuous nicknames. When Nora asked him for the money, he was simply calling her a spendthrift, but there was no emotion in his voice. He was calm about what he was saying to Nora, and he didn’t seem to mind that she was asking him for money. His tone was playful, not serious or condescending towards Nora. Garland's interpretation of Ibsen's "A Dollhouse" is closer to Ibsen's portrayal. In the beginning of the movie, Garland establishes the plot with snow and someone on a sleigh, which displays the Christmas spirit. The lighting is a little dim; Garland purposefully did that because he wanted to create the mood of their marriage and its internal appearance. The music is jolly, and upbeat like children’s’ songs, and it went perfectly because at the beginning of the clip, there were children laughing and playing in the snow. Nora came in the door and instantly the lighting was brighter, and she entered in her elegant home filled with decorations and Christmas spirit. Torvald was working in his office, waiting for his little “skylark’ to come. He immediately recognized that she had arrived and she went in to say hello. Garland displayed everything as if they are so perfect in their household. At least it appeared to be so, that relates to Ibsen’s portrayal of external perfection and how everything seemed great on the outside. It showed in Torvald’s character also, and how appearance is so important to him, and how he needs to keep a good appearance in society so his family looks good

Sandy. J said...

In Garland’s clip, Torvald uses the word “thoughtless” that corresponds to Ibsen’s portrayal of Torvald because in the play, Torvald accused Nora of spending his money on “number of unnecessary things”. Torvald is telling Nora of how she wastes his money, I interpreted it as she doesn’t even think about the consequences, but she uses the money anyhow for things that will make her happy. In Garland’s interpretation of the play, Nora took a macaroon suspiciously, as if she has to do it without Torvald knowing or else she’ll get reprimanded for it. That shows how Torvald is in control of Nora and how she can’t really be herself with him. She has to put on this façade in order to make him happy for the well being of their marriage. Ibsen demonstrates Torvald’s controlling ways when he questioned Nora asking “Hasn’t Miss Sweet tooth been breaking in town to-day? Not even taken a bite of a macaroon or two?” (Pg 6). Torvald restricts the things Nora can do, therefore that causes her to hide from him. Torvald manipulates Nora in a way that she acts a certain way in order for him to give her money or other things that satisfy her superficial desires. In Garland’s clip, Torvald teases Nora with the money that she wants from him. Since he calls her his “Little squirrel” , she was making gestures like a squirrel in order for him to give her the money. The director zoomed in on Nora’s face showing her facial expressions. She didn’t seem to like it very much the way Torvald was acting. Torvald’s tone was sarcastic and a bit mocking when he realized that Nora suddenly became upset. He was teasing her about what would happen if he didn’t give her money. He wasn’t really serious or companionate that Nora might just be really upset. Her mood changed drastically when he mentioned the word “money”, she had a devious satisfactory look on, as if she accomplished what she wanted. She then turned to the Nora that she was acting before. She had the excitement of asking for something and her getting her way. He controlled her with the money that he had, and she allowed herself to be controlled for money. In Garland’s clip, Torvald asked Nora where she would be if something happened to him like the roof falling on his head. The fact that he asked that shows his inner thoughts, that he thinks Nora would be lost without him. It’s as if she completely depends on him, and that she needs him in order to survive. In the play Torvald asked Nora “so my obstinate little woman is obliged to get someone to her rescue?” That was also a sarcastic remark because his tone implies that she has no one to come to her rescue, Torvald is the only one she has, therefore she can act as silly as she likes. In general, both the clip and Ibsen depict Torvald’s need to control Nora. Ibsen and Garland show this through their techniques such as nicknames, gestures and tones of voices.