Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House


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Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House In the following essay I will discussing whether or not I believe that Mrs. Linde is right on calling Nora “childish” in the first act of “A Dolls House.” “A Dolls House” was written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879 is based upon the day to day human struggle against the degrading constraints of social conformity.

In beginning of Act One we are introduced into a middle class home setting, it is well furnished and is presented with a pleasant, ordinary feel, “A room furnished comfortably and tastefully but not extravagantly.” We are then introduced to “Nora”, as she walks into her house she arrives with presents, and it is clear that the time of year is Christmas.

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She is followed by a porter who is carrying a Christmas tree, Nora then proceeds to ask the porter how much his service costs and he says “six pence.” Nora then hands over a shilling, “There is a shilling. No, keep the change.” This quote shows Nora to be quite generous and almost that she is showing off her money.

Nora then takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two and then silently goes to her where her husband is working and listens. This shows us that Nora is child like for she is spying on her husband and secretly listening to him, as he is unaware on what she is doing, personally I think she is hearing out for something she believes he does not want her to hear or know. The husband, Mr. Torvald Helmer suddenly calls out “Is that my little lark twittering out there?” He then continues to say, “Is it my little squirrel bustling about?” The use of pet names such as little lark and squirrel suggest that he treats her like his personal pet, and the fact Nora replies confidently shows that she enjoys being called by these child like names.

When Nora walks up to her husband the stage directions indicate that Nora hides the macaroons away and wipes her mouth, “Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.” The fact Nora hides the macaroons points out that she is not supposed to be eating them for whatever reason, she does not want Torvald to find out so hiding them and wiping her mouth to keep from trouble is another sign of her being child like.

Torvald is aware that Nora has bought many gifts, for he says, “Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?” The use of another pet name almost shows that Torvald does not really respect his wife for he does not call her by her proper name. However in many relationships it is common to have pet names that either partners refer to each other as, but in this case it seems like he is constantly referring to her with little pet names. He talks to her almost as though she is a child and less superior. In addition Torvald asks Nora if she has been wasting money “again”, this signifies that this is not the first time she has been caught spending money; therefore another reason why Nora is seen to be childish for she enjoys spending money and seems to show little consideration about it.

Nora displays many qualities that a child may have, such as deceit, greed and carelessness. Torvald asks Nora that they don’t spend money recklessly for they have had a harsh background with finance before he acquired his new job, whereas Nora continues to question him, like a child constantly pestering. Nora says, “You are going to have a big salary and earn lots and lots of money.” This quote shows that Nora is not really thinking about the consequences or the thought of loosing the money that Torvald is very steadily earning. Nora seems to be very obsessive over money and its power.

Later in Act One Torvald suspects Nora of being “rather uneasy.” Torvald asks Nora to look at him as he continues to ask her questions. I feel this part of the first act shows the relationship between Nora and her husband, for he ask her questions, almost like he treats her inferior and asks her like a child, “Hasn’t Miss Sweet Tooth been breaking rules in town today?.... “Not been nibbling on sweets” he says. Nora replies to every question with a “No, certainly not” as to try and make him believe that she has done nothing wrong, whereas truthfully she is lying and being deceitful about her day i.e. the macaroons or the spending money recklessly.

However Nora later starts too slowly show signs of maturity and seriousness when she talks to her widow friend later in Act One, Mrs. Linde. Nora begins to show us as an audience that in fact she is not as naive or childish as we thought. She reveals a very large secret about her and her husband that shocks the audience and what seems more shocking is to see her sudden change in attitude and language, almost to suggest that when she is around her husband, she acts differently and masks her personality so that he believes he is more superior than her, when in fact she turns out to be quite deceiving and not who he thinks she really is.

Later in Act One Mrs. Linde is talking to Nora about being hard working and proving that she has to earn her money respectively and through hardship, Mrs. Linde says, “Indeed, I don’t look down on anyone. But it is true that I am both proud and glad to think that I was privileged.” Mrs. Linde is strongly under the impression that Nora does not understand what it is like to earn money because Nora inherited from her father or gets given money from her husband. Nora suddenly says, “But now listen to this; I too have something to be proud and glad of.” Nora then continues to say, “Speak low. Suppose Torvald were to hear! He mustn’t on any account.” The previous quote supports my idea that Nora acts differently around her husband; she doesn’t want him to hear what she’s about to say because otherwise he will be furious and think much different of her. The fact that she does not want him to hear shows that she is being deceitful and again showing signs on being childish as to whisper about something bad she has done.

Nora continues to then talk about when Torvald fell fatally ill, she reminds Mrs. Linde of when her and her family moved to the South (Italy) for a year. Nora says, “It was I who saved Torvalds life.” Nora then proceeds to tell Mrs. Linde that it was her who collected all the necessary funds to support the holiday, and that Torvald had nothing to do with it. Obviously Mrs. Linde is very surprised and very reluctant to believe Nora, “You? All that sum?”
Due to Nora showing that she can collect a large sum of two hundred and fifty pounds without the support of her husband or father shows great responsibility and independence, something she surely showed lack in at the beginning when around her husband. However even though Nora raised all those funds to save her husbands life, she lied to her husband about how she got the money and is still deceitful about it, which still shows that she has the child like element still inside of her.

Overall I personally think calling Nora “childish” is a fair estimation. Nora has shown large amounts of evidence that she enjoys acting childish along with being treated as one. Despite the fact that she managed to raise the large sum of money to save her husband’s life does not truly mean that she did it through hardship and respective work. I believe that Nora is a childish, deceitful and disloyal person that does what ever she can to get what she wants. However this essay only studies the first act, I could be horribly wrong if later in the book Nora’s character turns out to be completely opposite, but by looking at Nora’s character throughout Act One clearly indicates I may be on the right lines.


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