Characters in A Doll’s House: Positives and Negatives

3 Sep

Nora, one of the key characters in the play, A Doll’s House, is continuously portrayed differently throughout the plot. In some scenes she is portrayed in positive manner, with a good-nature and high morals, while in others she is portrayed negatively, by her acting childish and naive and when she doesn’t consider the consequences of her actions. And still, there are certain points in the plot where she is portrayed as in-between positive and negative, such as when she initially does something negative for the greater good.

Throughout the storyline, Nora is sometimes portrayed in a positive way. An example of this is when she is shown trying to be a good mother. When her children come inside from sledging one evening, she is instantly enthusiastic about hearing about their adventures. After this, she suggests that they play a game of hide-and-seek, which is shortly interrupted by Mr. Krogstad. It can be easily be seen that Nora is also caring towards her children, as well as protective and reassuring. When Mr. Krogstad requests to talk to Nora alone, she asks the children to go into the other room with the maid Anne-Marie. The children are initially frightened and ask their mother whether the man will harm her or not. She immediately reassures them by saying no and tells them that they will play another game once she has finished her business with Mr. Krogstad.

Another positive trait we see in Nora is that she has a considerate, kind, and caring nature. Along with seeing this trait come out in her when she is around her children, it can also be seen when she wants to grant Ms. Linde her favour. She wanted Nora to see if Torvald would be able to employ her at the bank, and Nora, without hesitation, said “Leave it to me. I’ll see to it. I’ll find a way. Put him in a good mood. I’d love to help you,” (19). The first chance she got, she brought up the matter to Torvald, and he was interested.

Towards the end of the play, we see Nora transform from a childish, naive character into a mature woman who has unclasped herself from the control of the society that she lives in. She realizes that she no longer wants to be influenced by the social and economic pressures around her, and wants to discover her full potential as someone on her own (she wants to commit to self-actualization). Her own father treated her like a dolly, and when she married Torvald, he treated her exactly the same. This sort of relationship between father and daughter, and between husband and wife, was accepted during the play’s setting. When Nora was a young girl, she said that she viewed everything the way her father did, and if she didn’t, she didn’t dare say anything as it would upset her father. She was “controlled” by him, in the way a child controls the life of their dolls. Torvald resumed this relationship with Nora when they married, as she said that everything was organised to suit to his tastes and preferences. This is the same idea as a child would decorate their doll house to their likening and dress their dolls the way they preferred. After Torvald turns out not to be the man Nora thought he was, after he initially succumbed to thought that Krogstad would be able to control him (due to the debt to him and the false signature), she began to realize this type of relationship they had, how she was “controlled” by him. In order to fix everything, she decided she must leave her family and begin her process of self-actualization.

Nora is also portrayed in a negative manner as well throughout the plot. A primary example of this is that Nora is somewhat extravagant and is keen on spending money. In the beginning of the play we see that Nora has bought, all in one day, Christmas presents for the children, macaroons for herself, and is next trying to get Torvald to spend a little more this year, instead of saving, saving, saving. A good example of this is, “Can’t we just burn a little? A tiny little? Now you’re getting such a big pay-packet, pennies and pennies and pennies,” (10).

A second negative trait we see in Nora is the fact that she is naive and slightly spoiled. She also seems to not really care about serious matters in the beginning of the novel, and is short-sighted. An example of this is when she tells Torvald that they should just borrow money until the New Year, instead of saving. Torvald comes up with the worst-case scenario if they did borrow, which was him dying in a freak accident before the New Year, and Nora being stuck to pay off the debt. Nora says that she does no care if she still owed people money, and doesn’t care about the people who she would owe money too.

Another negative trait we see in Nora is that she is childish and immature. This occurs mainly when she is talking about money, but also we see this in her due to her sweet-tooth for macaroons. At one point in the first act, Nora sulks because she has no money to spend, and Torvald is reluctant to give her any. Despite this, Torvald gives in and provides her with some pennies to spend. Nora is ecstatic to receive the forty pennies, as if she were a young girl again. The macaroons appear infrequently throughout the opening act, where we see Nora hide them from Torvald, and where she offers them to Dr. Rank and Ms. Linde. Torvald has put a ban on sweets in the house (where Nora is the biggest offender), as if Nora is a child and cannot control her habits.

Nora is also notorious for not censoring what she says, especially when speaking to Ms. Linde. She basically blurts out anything, without considering the consequences of her actions. When speaking to Ms. Linde, she has no hesitation in telling her that she borrowed the money in order to pay for the vacation, instead of inheriting the funds from her father. Her not considering the consequences of her actions is another major negative attribute, as it has gotten her into a lot of trouble with Mr. Krogstad and Torvald towards the end.

Several in-between traits also appear in Nora, such as that she did certain negative actions for the greater good that they came with. A major example of this is when Nora lied to Torvald about where the funds for the vacation came from, in order to save his life (via the vacation). The lie was a negative action, which later came with consequences, but she did not think about these at the time. She was instead thinking of Torvald and how this vacation would make him better through some R and R. Another trait she has, which falls into the “caring and considerate” category, is that she was willing to grant a favour, even if it was impossible to meet. Nora did not know if she could talk Torvald into giving Mr. Linde a job at the bank, but assured her anyways that she would be able to.

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