Can someone tell me what might be the link between Nora’s “contraband” macaroons and her “huge desire to say – to hell and be damned” in A Doll's House.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act I of A Doll's House is set at Nora's residence. From the earlier scenes of the play the audience can already perceive the somewhat dysfunctional dynamics of the marriage. Torvald is the kind of husband who acts more like an authority figure towards his wife, while also condescending her to the point of calling her insipid and useless pet names.

Nora, on the other hand, enables this treatment by acting immaturely, childlike, and playfully around her husband as a way to keep him amused and entertained. In this "give and take away" of power and respect, Nora has fallen behind, becoming no more than another child within her own family.

Yet, Nora is in no way a character that epitomizes a "stupid" woman. She understands what is going on, even if she chooses to deny it completely. It is in Act I when we see for the first time that Nora may even hold a grudge against Torvald; the grudge of knowing that she is being controlled, diminished, and limited for no real reason at all. Moreover, she has a grudge against herself for having allowed things to get to this point. This is why she sneaks in macaroons, and wishes to say those big words to Torvald: to spite of him, to show her true colors- for once.

This is what comes up in the conversation between Nora and Dr. Rank, where she confesses this information, letting the audience see that she is not that blind after all.

RANK:... What is it you would so much like to say if Torvald could hear you?NORA:I should just love to say—Well, I'm damned! (modern version)RANK:Are you mad?MRS. LINDE:
Nora, dear—!

At this point in the play, Helmer comes in and the audience never clearly gets to appreciate the magnitude of Nora's anger. However, by the reaction of both Rank and Linde, it can be assumed that Nora's character expressed in her face a restrained sense of frustration and anger that was evident in her choice of expression.