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Nora as a Doll

Oct 08, 1999 523 Words
Nora Helmer as a Doll

In Isben's, A Dolls House Nora, the protagonist is treated like a doll - the property of Torvald Helmer. In Act I, there are many clues that hint at the kind of marriage Nora and Torvald have. It seems that Nora is a doll controlled by Torvald. She relies on him for everything, from movements to thoughts, much like a puppet that is dependent on its puppet master for all of its actions.

The most obvious example of Torvald's physical control over Nora is his re-teaching her the tarantella. Nora pretends that she needs Torvald to teach her every move in order to relearn the dance. This act shows her submissiveness to Torvald. After he teaches her the dance, he proclaims "When I saw you dance the tarantella, like a huntress, a temptress, my blood grew hot, I couldn't stand it any longer"(1530), showing how he is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally. When Nora responds by saying "Leave me, Torvald! Get away form me! I don't want all this"(1530), Torvald asks "Aren't I your husband?"(1530). By saying this, he is implying that one of Nora's duties as his wife is to physically pleasure him at his command.

Torvald also does not trust Nora with money, which exemplifies Torvald's treating Nora as a child. On the rare occasion when Torvald gives Nora some money, he is concerned that she will waste it on candy and pastry. Nora's duties, in general, are restricted to caring for the children, doing housework, and working on her needlepoint. A problem with her responsibilities is that her most important obligation is to please Torvald, making her role similar to that of a slave.

When Torvald does not immediately offer to help Nora after Krogstad threatens to expose her, Nora realizes that there is a problem. By waiting until after he discovers that his social status will suffer no harm, Torvald reveals his true feelings, which put appearance, both social and physical, ahead of the wife whom he says he loves. Nora's personality changes from a two-dimensional figure to a fully developed and captivating woman who can independently take care of herself and her family without the guiding hand of a man at her side; this is illustrated by her handling of the debt crisis up to the point that her husband finds out. This revelation is what prompts Nora to walk out on Torvald.

When Torvald tries to reconcile with Nora, she explains to him, in their first real conversation, how she had been treated like a child all her life; her father had treated her much the same way Torvald does. Both male superiority figures not only denied her the right to think and act the way she wished, but limited her happiness. Nora describes her feelings as "always merry, never happy." When Nora finally slams the door and leaves, she is not only slamming it on Torvald, but also on everything else that has happened in her past which curtailed her growth into a mature woman.

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