In A Doll's House, what crime has Nora committed?

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Prior to the beginning of the plot of A Doll's House, Nora committed forgery. A desperate woman and devoted wife, she grasped for a way to pay for her husband's needed medical treatment. She turned to Krogstad , who realizes that the signature is dated three days after her...

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Prior to the beginning of the plot of A Doll's House, Nora committed forgery. A desperate woman and devoted wife, she grasped for a way to pay for her husband's needed medical treatment. She turned to Krogstad, who realizes that the signature is dated three days after her father died (quite the slip on Nora's part) and that Nora replicated his signature as well. Unfortunately, Krogstad isn't a compassionate guy and uses this knowledge to blackmail Nora, telling her that "if I get shoved down a second time, you're going to keep me company" (act 1).

Under current laws in the United States, forgery is potentially punishable under federal penalties. Forgery is determined to have taken place if the signature is false (which Nora's is), if the false signature has a legal significance (which a loan would carry), and if there is an intent to defraud (and Nora intended to deceive Krogstad). While the play is written in a different historical context, Nora would have nevertheless faced penalties for her deceptive actions if Krogstad had reported her. As a woman, she wielded less social power than did Krogstad, so she finds herself fairly at the mercy of this man once he confronts her.

Of course, giving in to blackmail is one more misstep in Nora's judgement. Yet it is further evidence of how Nora has been dominated by the men in her life; her financial blunder reflects a failed effort by a woman to navigate the male-dominated world of finance at that time.

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In the strictly legal sense, Nora's crime is forging her late father's signature to obtain a loan. She does it with the best of intentions, to help pay for a trip to Italy when her husband was sick, but as Krogstad points out, the law is the law. Krogstad, by his complicity in the forgery, is also guilty of breaking the law but feels himself morally superior to Nora because he has openly acknowledged his crime and seeks to make amends. Nora, however, doesn't quite see it that way. She's a respectable woman, not a serial fraudster. And besides, she thinks, this was a victimless crime with no harm done.

If anything, it's the duplicity that Nora displays in forging her father's signature that is the real crime here. It shows a fundamental flaw in Nora's character, one that makes her somewhat less sympathetic. It also doesn't help her case much that, unlike Krogstad, she's unable to face up to the consequences of her actions. She's living a lie, just as she is by remaining in a sham marriage. It is only when Nora firmly closes the door behind her, when she finally breaks free from the artificial constraints placed upon her by society, that she realizes the importance of living a life without illusions and lies.

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Nora has committed the crime of forgery.

This act of forging her dying father's name is the crux of the drama because it brings together all the underlying moral issues that contribute to the final conflict of Nora against a rigid social system in which females have little agency in their lives and marriages--a system which her husband values highly.

While Nora has committed an act that is illegal, she has responded to a higher moral principle. That is, she has valued life and love over the letter of the law. On the other hand, her husband Torvald cannot recognize the value of her act of desiring to save her husband's life over an illegality that occurred because as a woman Nora could not sign for the loan on her own. In her confrontation with Krogstad over this issue in Act I, Nora tells him that it was "impossible" for her to have disclosed to her father her purpose for the loan because he was so ill. So, after he died, she forged his name in order to save the life of her husband.

KROGSTAD. The law does not ask motives.
NORA. Then it's a bad law.... A daughter shouldn't have the right to save her husband's life? I don't know the laws very well, but I'm sure that somewhere they make allowances for cases like that.

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Nora has committed one crime, in the legal sense, and another in a moral sense. The legal infraction was forgery. The moral infraction was lying to Torvald about where she got the money to take their trip when he was ill. Each of these actions began when Nora took a loan from Krogstad. 

Because Nora lied when she borrowed money from Krogstad, she must continue lying to repay the money.

Nora forged her father's signature on the loan document she gave to Krogstad. She says that her father was too ill to bother with signing the document, so she signed herself. He was actually dead when Nora forged the signature. The date on the document was what led Krogstad to his discovery. 

Nora claims that this was not a crime because her father would have signed the document himself. Also, she was forging the signature for love. She wanted to save Torvald. 

It is this crime, forgery, which Krogstad threatens to expose and, importantly, this is the same crime for which Krogstad lost his good reputation in town. He committed forgery too. 

Nora's other transgression is her continued lie to her husband. She squirrels away money to pay off her loan to Krogstad and undertakes some sneaky methods to do this. 

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