Nora is a complex and dynamic protagonist. In the beginning of A Doll's House , she sometimes bears her husband's outright insults. When she tries to explain that she is thrifty, he replies, "Yes, that's the truth. [You save] everything you can. But that's nothing at all" (1.48). She...
Nora is a complex and dynamic protagonist. In the beginning of A Doll's House, she sometimes bears her husband's outright insults. When she tries to explain that she is thrifty, he replies, "Yes, that's the truth. [You save] everything you can. But that's nothing at all" (1.48). She puts up with his childish and insulting pet names, such as "squirrel," "featherbrain," and "lark." But Nora is much more than the simple, flighty wife she initially seems to be.
We learn quickly that Nora is a devoted wife. Doctors told her that her husband needed expensive medical treatment in Italy, and she also knew that Torvald would never pay for it. So she took out a loan and committed forgery in order to obtain the funds and save his life, never mentioning this to Torvald. She's secretly been working side jobs and stashing some of her "allowance" to pay back her debt. And still, she listens without complaint as her husband accuses her of constantly wasting money, and she continues to endure his infantilizing treatment. She's faithful and willing to overlook his faults.
Yet, eventually, she realizes that the love she longs for doesn't exist. When her husband finally realizes the truth of her actions, his first priority is to save himself:
In all these eight years—she who was my pride and joy—a hypocrite, a liar—worse, worse—a criminal! How infinitely disgusting it all is! The shame! I should have suspected something of the kind. I should have known. All your father's flimsy values. (3.236)
Nora begins to see Torvald for what he is: another man who wants to rule over her.
That's the point right three: you've never understood me. I've been wronged greatly, Torvald—first by Papa, and then by you.
Nora realizes that she is strong enough to strive for more. She doesn't have to be boxed into the role of a doting daughter or a serving wife. She leaves in a quest of "absolute freedom" (3.360) in search of more.
Nora is willing to lose everything and walk away from her life completely empty-handed because she is strong enough to know that she will be okay.