NORA IS INITIALLY PORTRAYED AS IRRATIONAL, SUBMISSIVE, NAÏVE, AND CHILDISH. YET BY ACT 3, SHE HAS EVOLVED INTO A SELF-AWARE PERSON WHO DEMANDS A SERIOUS CONVERSATION WITH HER HUSBAND, BEFORE SHE LEAVES HIM FOREVER.
“I was fragile, breakable. (getting up.) That’s when I realised, Torvald.” Nora’s transformation throughout the play is illustrated through her action of “getting up,” showing her level of self-awareness allowing her the ability to take a stance and control her own life instead of continuously travelling through a cycle of submission to male dominance. In 1879, Henrik Ibsen created an alternative definition to the social ideals of what constituted as a conformist, orthodox marriage between husband and wife through his play ‘A Doll’s House.’ Nora evolves from a credulous, permissive wife domesticated to her husband’s views and wishes. Nora progresses alongside the play with hints of disobedience and the unravelling of her secrets. Nora’s psychological barriers lead up to her epiphany and transformation as a woman and an individual through self-realisation.
At the play’s outset, Nora is whimsical and carefree, excited about Christmas and Torvald’s recent promotion. Due to the new promotion and new pay check Nora acts untroubled about spending money. Although she is frustrated by the fact that the other characters, including her husband, believe she is a “spendthrift,” she does not seem to really mind, and happily plays along with Torvald’s pet names for her, which include “skylark,” “songbird,” “squirrel,” and “featherbrain.” Torvald also regularly refers to her and treats her as a child, for example, belittling her as “little” and “(wagging his finger)” at her. The animal and child imagery both reflect Nora’s apparently innocent, carefree nature, and suggest that her husband does not think of her as a proper adult because she is “just like a woman.” Nora’s role as a wife and a mother conflict as she is expected to be young, lively, and malleable to her husband’s wishes however, as a mother Nora must be responsible and a good example for her children so they grow up respectful. Nora does exercise some form of power through her feminine wiles to get what she wants. For example, Nora “(plays with his [Torvald’s] buttons)” as a form of seduction and charm to create control. The dolls Nora bought for her daughter are a symbolic reference to how Nora is raising her daughter for a life similar to Nora’s own, yet simultaneously foreshadows Nora breaking up her family life by leaving Torvald. “They’ll soon be broken, anyway.” When Nora plays with her children she also refers to them as her “little dollies.” However, it is not until the end of the play that the metaphor becomes explicitly clear. Nora tells Torvald that both he and her father treated her like a doll, and cites this as one of the reasons why she has become dissatisfied and disillusioned with her life with him.
Furthermore, at the beginning of the play, Nora appears to be a...