Random House Webster's dictionary defines a foil as "a person or thing that makes another seem better by contrast." This essay will focus on the use of the foil to contrast another character. The characters of Nora and Mrs. Linde provide an excellent example of this literary device. Mrs. Linde's aged, experienced personality is the perfect foil for Nora's childish nature. Mrs. Linde's hard life is used to contrast the frivolity and sheltered aspects of Nora's life. Nora's optimism and belief in things improbable is an opposite to the rationality and down-to-earth mentality of Mrs. Linde. Finally, the rekindling of the flame between Mrs. Linde and Krogstad is a direct contrast to the burning down of Nora and Torvald's "doll's house."
Whereas one can see Mrs. Linde as mature and world-weary, one can easily read the character Nora as immature and childlike; one of the first examples of this immaturity and childishness can be found in the first few pages. Nora has come in from a day of shopping and in these excerpts we can see her child-like manner while interacting with her husband, Torvald:
Nora: Oh yes, Torvald, we can squander a little now. Can't we? Just a tiny, wee bit. Now that you've got a big salary and are going to make piles and piles of money. (Ibsen Ibsen 27-29)
With this excerpt, we see a child-like attitude not only in Nora's manner of speaking with the statement "Just a tiny, wee bit," but also in her attitude toward money and the unrealistic expectations of making "piles and piles of money." The following example also shows Nora's childish manner in her personal interactions with her husband. Her manner seems more like that of a favorite daughter, acc...
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Davies, H. Neville. 1982. "Not just a bang and a whimper: the inconclusiveness of Ibsen's A Doll's House." Critical Quarterly 24:33-34.
Durbach, Errol. A Doll's House: Ibsen's Myth of Transformation. Boston: Twayne, 1991.
Heiberg, Hans. Ibsen. A Portrait of the Artist. Coral Gables, Florida: University of Miami. 1967.
Ibsen , Henrik. A Doll's House. Dover Thrift Edition, 1992
Northam, John. 1965. "Ibsen's Search for the Hero." Ibsen. A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
Solomon, Barbara H., ed. Rediscoveries: American Short Stories by Women, 1832-1916. New York: Penguin Group, 1994.
Templeton, Joan. "Is A Doll House a Feminist Text?" (1989). Rpt. In Meyer. 1635-36.
Templeton, Joan. "The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen." PMLA (January 1989): 28-40.
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