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Mrs. Linde As A Foil For Nora In In Ibsen's A Doll's House

1651 words - 7 pages

Mrs. Linde as a Foil for Nora in A Doll's House

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, accustomed to getting her way than that of a wife:

Nora:   (Ibsen Fumbling at his coat buttons, without looking at him.) If you want to give me something, then maybe you could- you could-

Helmer:   Come on, out with it.

Nora:   (Ibsen Hurriedly) You could give me money, Torvald...

Helmer:   But Nora-

Nora:   Oh, please, Torvald darling, do that! I beg you, please. Then I could hang the bills in pretty gilt paper on the Christmas tree. Wouldn't that be fun? (Ibsen 77-87)

Mrs. Linde is the perfect foil for Nora as can be evidenced with the following excerpt from lines 297-301. Mrs. Linde's self sacrifice for her closest loved ones is atypical of those without the utmost maturity. Mrs. Linde married a man she did not love for the purpose of security:

Nora: it really true that you weren't in love with your husband? Why did you marry him then?

Mrs. Linde:   My mother was still alive, but bedridden and helpless- and I had my two younger brothers to look after. In all conscience, I didn't think I could turn him down.

Evidence of Mrs. Linde's hard life can be seen in the conversation occurring between herself and Doctor Rank, a friend of the Helmer's. In contrast to Nora's life of...

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