In the play, A Doll's House, does Torvald demostrate any growth or change in his character or outlook?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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With regard to Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House, I believe that Torvald demonstrates little, if any, growth or change in character or outlook.

When Nora found out that Torvald was seriously ill (which occurs before the play begins), she had to forge her father's signature after his death to borrow money. In the convening years, she finds ways to secretly pay Krogstad back, and hides what she has done from her husband.

We can assume that Torvald would not understand what she has done, and in fact, when he finds out, he is accusatory and verbally abusive. He is more concerned about his reputation than he is about Nora's sacrifice and her subsequent suffering to hide her actions. Even when she tries to explain how she had, all along, hoped he would take the blame for her (the "miracle of miracles," he cannot believe what she is saying. His response is:

Oh, you think and talk like stupid child.

As Nora tells Torvald she can no longer live with him, he says that he has the strength to change, but she believes he thinks this way only because she is leaving, not because he has come to see her with new eyes.

Torvald begs her to stay, saying that they can live like siblings, but not expressing outright that he will do whatever it takes to make their marriage work.

The only possibility of a reconciliation comes at the end when Nora tells him they would need the...

......miracle of miracles...You and I would have to change so much...I don't believe in miracles anymore.

After Nora leaves, Torvald sits alone repeating what she has said. The stage directions state:

A hope strikes him.

And Torvald repeats Nora's words again:

The miracle of miracles.

The ending is open to interpretation: the reader is given the idea that he is looking forward with a sense of possibilities.

However, the final stage direction, I believe, could be construed to point to an ending without hope.

The street door is slammed shut downstairs.

I have always thought this sounded like the closing of a door on Torvald's hope because Torvald is a man steeped in the traditions of his society, as well as his own sense of ego and superiority toward women in general.

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