English 109 Dr. Stevenson
In A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, Nora said, " I'm a human being, no less than you - or anyway, I ought to try to become one "(Ibsen 1151). As a result she realizes the need to get away and define herself as a person because ever since she was little she has always been given a label by her father then her husband. Nora struggles with the question of self-importance and her place in society due to her husband’s beliefs versus her own. He believed that a woman’s place was just to be a wife with no major responsibilities except for taking care of the kids and household. He believed that a husband was supposed to be the provider and breadwinner of the household. She believed that her love had no place in society and that it wouldn’t matter to him.
The conflict of the story is driven by Nora’s forging of loan documents in order to raise money for an expensive trip to Italy. The doctor told Torvald Helmer, her husband, that he needed to go to warmer climate so without the trip to Italy he would have remained sick from being overworked and eventually died. At the time they didn’t have enough money for that type of trip. Nora took a loan out under her husband’s name and Krogstad processed the loan. Even though it was illegal to do that she did it anyway because of her love for Torvald. She took a major risk for him and he repaid her with harsh words and hostility. Further evidence suggests that when Torvald found out about her actions he was extremely upset and ungrateful:
Torvald Helmer: Oh what an awful awakening! In all these eight years- she who was my pride and joy - a hypocrite, a liar- worse, worse- a criminal! How infinitely disgusting it all is! I should have suspected something of the kind. I should have known. All your father’s flimsy values – Be still! All your father’s flimsy values have come out in you. No religion, no morals, no sense of duty- Oh how I’m punished for letting him off! I did it for your sake and you repay me like this; (Ibsen, 1147) Nora was trapped in society’s expectations of typical women in the 19th century. In order to find herself she needed to go against the social norm. Woman’s roles were to stay at home, raise the children and attend to her husband. In the beginning of the play Nora would go along with Torvald’s subtle ways of making Nora feel as if she was subservient to him. He would say things such as “Now, now the little lark’s wings mustn’t droop. Come on, don’t be a sulky squirrel”(Ibsen, 1107) He would call her little nicknames which symbolized his authority over her . He didn’t know that all along she was tricking him to get money to help pay for the loans. She was leading a double life because she would act most child-like when she was around her husband when in reality she knew exactly what she had to do in order to get money from him. She would play along and act oblivious to the oppressive situation that she was living with. She eventually realized that her whole marriage was a lie continued from her childhood and she grew to have enough strength to free herself.…