Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Nora, the “doll-wife” of Torvald Helmer. Seeking always to charm her husband, Nora is his “singing lark,” his pretty “little squirrel,” and his “little spendthrift.” She seems to be a spendthrift because secretly she is paying off a debt she incurred to finance a year in Italy for the sake of Torvald’s health. To get the money, she had forged her dying father’s name to a bond at the bank. Krogstad, a bookkeeper at the bank where Torvald has recently been appointed manager, is aware that the bond was signed after the death of Nora’s father. He puts pressure on Nora to persuade Torvald to promote him. Frightened, Nora agrees to help him. When her friend Christine Linde, a widow and formerly Krogstad’s sweetheart, also asks for help, Nora easily persuades Torvald to give Christine an appointment at the bank. The position, unfortunately, is Krogstad’s. Torvald, finding Krogstad’s presumption unbearable, plans to discharge him. While Christine helps Nora prepare a costume for a fancy dress ball in which she will dance the tarantella, Krogstad writes a letter, following his dismissal, telling Torvald of Nora’s forgery. Nora desperately keeps Torvald from the mailbox until after the dance. She decides to kill herself so that all will know that she alone is guilty and not Torvald. After the dance, Torvald reads the letter and tells Nora in anger that she is a criminal and can no longer be his wife, although she may...
(The entire section is 759 words.)
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Nora is the "doll" wife of Torvald. She is sensitive, sensible, and completely unaware of her own worth until the last act of the play. She initially appears flighty and excitable. Nora is most concerned with charming her husband and being the perfect wife; she is also secretive and hides her thoughts and actions from her husband even when there is no real benefit in doing so. Rather, deception appears to be almost a habit for Nora. Her husband constantly refers to her with pet names, such as "singing lark," "little squirrel," and "little spendthrift." He pats her on the head much as one would a favorite puppy. She forges her father's signature on a loan, lies to her husband about the source of the money, lies about how she spends the household accounts, and lies about odd jobs she takes to earn extra money. She is viewed as an object, a toy, a child, but never an equal. Her problem is that she is totally dependent upon her husband for all her needs; or she deceives herself into thinking so until the end of the play.
Torvald is a smug lawyer and bank manager who represents a social structure that has decreed an inferior position for women. He is a symbol of society: male dominated, authoritative, and autocratic. He establishes rules for his wife, Nora. Some of the rules, such as no eating of macaroons, are petty and demeaning. He refers to his wife in the diminutive. She is always...
(The entire section is 715 words.)