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What actions and lines of dialogue demonstrate Nora's change at the end of Act III of A...

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brooke89 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted April 2, 2012 at 10:15 PM via web

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What actions and lines of dialogue demonstrate Nora's change at the end of Act III of A Doll's House?

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 10, 2012 at 10:39 PM (Answer #1)

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Throughout the majority of A Doll's House Nora plays a part in the Helmer household, resorting to coy and demur displays of affection and praise in order to get her way. At the end of the play, Nora gives up the pretense of fragility and weakness and dons a new strength, choosing to leave her husband, children and the security of a fixed, social identity behind. 

One of the most striking evidences of Nora's change from fake weakness to attempted strength comes when she brings the entire history of her marriage into question: 

“We have been married now for eight years. Does it not occur to you that this is the first time we two, husband and wife, have had a serious conversation?”

With these words, Nora blames both herself and her husband for the fraud of their partnership. Ultimately she blames the two men of her life for treating her as if she has no mind of her own. Her father and Torvald are both given responsonsibility for stiffling Nora's sense of self and suffocating her with their own. 

Perhaps the greatest display of her change is found in her decision to leave her family behind.

Nora realizes in the final act of A Doll's House that if she wants the opportunity to develop an identity as an adult, she must leave her husband's home.

Though she has fought against the image of herself as helpless and stupid throughout the play, she is also seen to depend on the affections of her children. In leaving them, Nora is leaving all comforts behind and taking on the task of finding herself. 

This is not necessarily a selfless or noble task and may be better seen as a selfish departure from the effacement Nora had accepted for eight years as a wife and mother. 

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