In Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, what is an example of Nora's development from a rebellious housewife into independent adulthood?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One way in which Nora shows rebelliousness is through eating macaroons. Her husband has expressly forbidden Nora to eat sweets because he thinks they will ruin her teeth. However, while out Christmas shopping, she purchases a packet of macaroons and is seen eating them when she first enters the house. Torvald's rule forbidding her to eat treats symbolizes all of societies rules over her. In rebelling against her husband, she is rebelling against society as well, especially society's order that a husband has authority to rule over his wife.

She especially eats the macaroons when conversing with Christine and Dr. Rank about the fact that her husband is now Krogstad's, her creditor's, superior. While she once saw Krogstad as a threat to herself because he could expose her cherished secret, she now sees herself and her husband as a threat to Krogstad. Krogstad further symbolizes society's rules because he represents the fact that women were forbidden to take out loans without the authority of a man. However, now that her husband is Krogstad's superior, Nora no longer feels threatened by either society or Krogstad. Nora sees so much irony in the fact that she and her husband now have so much power over one who once intimidated her, that it inspires her to rebel against society's rules by eating more macaroons, which symbolize not only her husband's rules over her but society's rules as well. Not only that, she sees so much irony in the fact that Krogstad is now Torvald's subordinate that she laugh's out loud, saying:

It's perfectly glorious to think that we have--that Torvald has so much power over so many people ... Doctor, Rank, what do you say to a macaroon? (I)

Nora's laughter and her rebelliousness in eating the macaroons shows us just how much she is rebelling against both her husband and society.

However, Nora's macaroon eating was just the beginning of her rebellion against society. By the end of the play, she decides to become an independent woman. She realizes that both Torvald and her father have treated her unjustly by treating her as a play thing, which was the characteristic way for society to treat women in this time period. Her decision to leave her husband, thus becoming an independent woman, is not only a rebellion against her husband but against society as well.


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