Torvald and Nora in in Ibsen's A Doll's House

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The Character of Torvald and Nora in A Doll's House

In Ibsen's "A Doll's House", there are many clues that hint at the kind of marriage Nora and Torvald have. It seems that Nora is a type of doll that is controlled by Torvald. Nora is completely dependent on Torvald. His thoughts and movements are her thoughts and movements. Nora is a puppet who is dependent on its puppet master for all of its actions.

The most obvious example of Torvald's physical control over Nora can be seen in his teaching of the tarantella. Nora pretends that she needs Torvald to teach her every move in order to relearn the dance. The reader knows that this is an act, but it still shows her complete submissiveness to Torvald. After he teaches her the dance, he proclaims:

Torvald. ...When you were dancing the tarantella,

chasing, inviting--my blood was on fire;

I couldn't stand it any longer--thats

why I brought you down so early--

Nora. Leave me now, Torvald. Please! I don't want all this.

Torvald. What do you mean? You're only playing

your little teasing bird game with me;

aren't you, Nora? Don't want to? I'm

your husband, aren't I? (Isben 447)

This shows that Torvald is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally. He feels that it is one of Nora's main duties as his wife to physically pleasure him at his command.

Torvald is not only demanding mentally and physically, but also financially. He does not trust Nora with money. He feels that she is incapable and too immature to handle a matter of such importance. Torvald sees Nora as a child. She is forever his little "sparrow" or "squirrel". On the rare occasion that Torvald does give Nora some money, he worries that she will waste it on candy, pastry or something else of Childish and useless value. Nora's duties, in general, are restricted to caring for the children, doing housework, and working on her needlepoint. But overall, Nora's most important responsibility is to please Torvald. This makes her role similar to that of a slave.

The problem in "A Doll's House" does not lie with Torvald alone. Though he does not help the situation, he is a product of his society. In his society, females were confined in every way imaginable.
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