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With its depiction of material dependency in the affairs of the heart, Ibsen's A Doll's House exposes many of the delusions of the romantic idealism of the time of its writing. An examination of the characters of this drama provides insights into the importance of money in the relationships of men and women in the play.
When her old friend Kristine Linde first visits her, Nora joyously tells her, not about her children, but the "good news,"
"Just think. My husband's been made manager of the Mutual Bank....Oh, you've no idea how delighted we are!...he'll be getting a big salary and all sorts of extras. from now on we'll be able to live in quite a different way--exactly as we like....It's lovely to have lots and lots of money and not have to worry about a thing! Don't you agree?"
Ironically, however, Helmer's new position does not solve all Nora's problems because she finds that she no longer can deceive her husband about her forgery of her father's signature on a loan she took in order to save her husband's health. She has even considered asking Dr. Rank for the money to repay this before Helmer learns of it, but decides not to when she learns Rank is dying.
A foil to Nora because she discourages her from deceiving her husband, Mrs. Linde's life has greatly been affected by the importance of money. In love with Krogstad in her youth, she chose instead to move away and marry a man whose financial situation was better than Krogstad's because of the necessity of caring for her ailing mother.
Mrs. Linde now returns a widow with grown sons who are employed. Her mother has died, so she is alone with "emptiness" which is contrary to Nora's idea that it should be a relief to no longer have financial burdens. She hopes to find a job in order to fill this vacuum created by loss of family.
That money and position are important to Helmer is evinced in his recalling the previous Christmas in which Nora made the ornaments herself. Rather than appreciating her efforts, he claims that he was bored without her company: "Some big surprise for all of us, anyway," he says sarcastically. This year, he tells Nora, will be different since he has obtained the new position at the bank.
Later, when he learns that Nora has deceived him, he does not thank her for saving his life by obtaining the money so that he could get the rest cure he needed; instead, he selfishly anguishes over the scandal her actions will cause and the compromising position he will be in at work.
Procuring the position at Helmer's bank is extremely important to Krogstad, for it is a step toward financial security. Having committed an "impropriety" in the past, Krogstad has had difficulty finding employment worthy of his qualifications, employment that he desperately needs as he tries to provide for his motherless children. However, he is not the villain as suggested in the first act; unlike other characters, Krogstad realizes that love is more valuable than money and position.
Throughout Ibsen's three-act play, the condition of each character's life has been dependent upon money, especially in the relationships of men and women. And, this grave importance of money has deeply damaged the interpersonal relationships of those involved, especially Nora and Trovald, as an examination of the personages of the drama illustrates.
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