“A Doll’s House”: Comparison of Play and Film Version

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Throughout the history of our world we live in, women have been forced to play very distinct roles in society, all of which were expected of women during that time. In 1879, women were expected to have one specific duty of keeping their men happy as well as raising robust and resilient children. In A Doll’s House, a play by Henrik Ibsen it simply explores the poor treatment women faced during the 1800’s and their suppressive lifestyle’s they were forced to live. society demonstrates that marriage was a burden that ultimately hurt the women involved. The setting takes place in a small town in Norway in the late 1800’s. The film version of A Doll’s House (1973) by Patrick Garland has many similarities and differences in comparison to the play.

Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play, A Doll’s House was depicted very well by Patrick Garland’s 1973 film, A Doll’s House, The cast in the film portayedIbsen’s characters well, and the setting in the movie were very close to the settings described in the play. At the beginning of the play, Torvald, Nora’s husband, is seen treating Nora like a child and it seems to the reader that he sees her as incapable of being an independent woman. This is evident when Torvald, calls Nora his “little lark” and tells her “not to be a sulky squirrel” (884-886).

Torvald, is treating Nora as if she is a dog or a young child who must be watched over every minute of the day. Women were seen as nothing but props that were used to look after the family and nothing else as seen in the discussion between Nora and her long lost friend Mrs. Linde (891-893).In the very first scene of A Doll’s House, many differences are noticed when comparing the play to the film. The play opens with a drawn out description of the setting and the first character introduced, her name is Nora Helmer and it shows her entering her home from the back door.

In the film version it begins with Nora riding in a horse-drawn sled. There were many difference that were pointed out to me when i viewed the film version of the play.Two main differences that stood out the most to me were the scenes between Dr. Rank and Nora, and the ending scene with Nora and Torvald.The first scene that I noticed a huge difference in was the scene when Dr. Rank confesses his love for Nora. I thought that it was played out much differently in the film then in play itself. Garland’s interpretation of the play showed this scene to be somewhat more awkward than how I perceived in Ibsen’s original play. Garland’s understanding of the scene showed more chemistry between Dr. Rank and Nora Helmer than I believed Ibsen pointed out in his play. When I was watching the scene, I felt very embarrassed for Dr. Rank because he was so forward with his feelings toward Nora.

The second difference that I had noticed while watching the film was the ending scene between Nora and Torvald. After Torvald found out about Nora’s terrible secret, Ibsen has Nora explain to Torvald the reasoning for her wrong doings, and why she must leave him and the children behind. However, I believe Garland’s film followed the play more closely during this particular scene. After Torvald threw a huge fit, and then automatically tried to tell her everything was going to be fine, Nora sat down and had a conversation with him.This scene was more boring and drawn out in the film version. I believe it made the reasoning behind Nora leaving more clear to the audience who viewed the film.

The time of the play and the time of the film have a huge impact on the adaptation of the differences and similarities between the two pieces of work. The play was written in the late 1800’s and the film was made almost 100 years later. How they are both performed and written are completely different because of the way Ibsen and Garland both interpreted the play. For example some similarities combine with the differences to create seperate versions of the story. Furthermore, the play describes Torvald leaving his office to speak with Nora this is when Nora is hiding macaroons in her pocket.

Nervously, Nora enters Torvald’s office in the film and she hides the macaroons in their piano. There are some aspects that are omitted in the play and in the film as well. For example there are some exclusions of the dialogue in the first scene of the movie. the director decided to cut out when Torvald skips over explaining why Nora spends a huge amount of their money. The play has Torvald telling Nora an in-depth explanation for her spending habit. Torvald believes it is simply heredity or “deep in the blood”(Ibsen 886).

There are many strengths and weaknesses in both the play and the film. For example in the play Ibsen made it seem like Nora was not affected by her leaving her husband and children behind, but in the movie she actually went to her childrens room and said goodbye to them. The play made Nora much more closer to her kids than it appeared in the play.

There are many symbols in the play that are also incorporated in the movie. The Christmas tree is festive object really meant to serve a decorative purpose during Christmas time. In the play it symbolizes Nora’s position in her household as a object who is pleasing to look at and only really adds charm to their home. There are several similarities shown between Nora and the Christmas tree throughout the play. Just as Nora tells the maid that the children are not allowed see the tree until it has been decorated. Nora also tells Torvald that no one can see her in her dress until the evening of the dance.

Also, at the beginning of the second act, after Nora’s psychological condition has begun to begin, the stage directions indicate that the Christmas tree is correspondingly “dishevelled”(906).Ibsen also uses another symbol to help develop Torvald Helmer’s character. Helmers locked mailbox represents Torvald as a superior and controlling husband. The mailbox is for only Torvald to access, he is the only person who holds the key. In addition, Torvald’s has a study that his private room. Nora is never allowed to enter.

The fact that Torvald will not even allow Nora, his own wife to read the mail they get shows how far he has kept his work life and basically his whole life separate from her which is all under his total control. Torvald does not see Nora as a scholarly person to be involved with any type of business or such important matters in life. The mailbox also represents Nora’s acquiescence, which proclaims the suppression of all women during the time period.


Cite this paper

“A Doll’s House”: Comparison of Play and Film Version. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/a-dolls-house-comparison-of-play-and-film-version/



How is a doll's house a modern play?
Ibsen's Doll's House is a modern play because it challenges traditional gender roles and because it is written in prose instead of verse.
What is the difference between a doll house and a doll's house?
A doll house is a miniature replica of a house, while a doll's house is a toy house for dolls.
What style of play is a doll's house?
In "A Doll's House," the playwright uses a minimalistic style to focus on the characters and their development. The set is spare, and the dialogue is direct.
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