Nora: An Extraordinary "Doll" in "A Doll's House" Essay

Nora: An Extraordinary "Doll" in "A Doll's House" Essay

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Nora, the wife of Torvald Helmer and mother of three children, plays a fundamental role within Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House," published in 1879. Nora's character demonstrates typical characteristics of the `average woman' during the 1870's and 1880's. Women were not regarded as equals according to men; however women did have a large impact on the economy. This was caused by large sums of money spent on several garments, costumes, and accessories. It was customary, not to mention fashionable, for a woman to wear undergarments, a bustle, narrow shoes, and an expensive, lavish dress as well. The appearance of a lady was of utmost importance, so one must recognize that women strove to meet those standards. Nora strives to look and act pretty in order to please Torvald; however she, like many other women during this time period, does not address the manner in which she may have liked to dress or act. This is obvious in "A Doll's House" in Act One. Nora implores Torvald to decide what she will wear to the party. He takes this lightly, and decides moments later. One could conclude at this point in the play that Nora is growing tired of being treated as though she is a child or animal that needs to be tamed or calmed. In spite of her true emotions, Nora plays along with Torvald out of desperation for time, and money. She does not want him to sit down and read his letters, for Krogstad has sent a response to his dismissal that includes Nora's previous actions. It is the mere thought of Torvald gaining consciousness of her faults that creates the initial worry for Nora.

Many women during the 1870's and 1880's began to realize and emphasize their self-worth. Many women yearned for an escape from the confines of the home...

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... considered as an equal to Torvald, and this is quite acceptable. She goes above and beyond, leaving her children to secure their futures. As a wife, as a woman, and a mother, Nora is greater than an equal. She is softhearted, yet hardy enough to escape from the confines of the home; neglecting social and familial pressures in order to secure herself as an individual, not just as a wife and mother.

Work Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. Four Major Plays. "A Doll's House." Oxford University Press. New York: 1998. Translated by James McFarlane: 1961. Page 28.


Santucci, James. "Women in the Theosophical Movement." Originally published in Explorations: Journal for Adventurous Thought

vol. 9, no. 1, (Fall, 1990). Visited on April 10, 2005.

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