Describe Nora and Torvald's relationship in A Doll's House.

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Nora and Torvald 's relationship is not really a fundamentally strong one because it is founded on appearances rather than trust and truth. Nora keeps up appearances and acts a bit like a child when she is with her husband, making him believe that she obeys him in all things...

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Nora and Torvald's relationship is not really a fundamentally strong one because it is founded on appearances rather than trust and truth. Nora keeps up appearances and acts a bit like a child when she is with her husband, making him believe that she obeys him in all things when; in reality, she disobeys him in many ways, both large and small. We see her eating cookies when she is alone, and we only find out later that such treats are forbidden to her by her husband. She hides them from him, but he still asks her, "Hasn't Miss Sweet Tooth been breaking rules in town today?...Hasn't she paid a visit to the confectioner's?" She declares, resolutely, "I should not think of going against your wishes," and he responds with an absolute certainty that his word is law, and she has given hers.

However, she absolutely has been eating cookies and has gone against his wishes in even more significant ways: for example, she took out a loan years ago in order to pay for the trip abroad which saved Torvald's life, and she forged her father's signature. There seems to be a pattern, here, of Nora acting the part of the obedient and submissive wife but then going ahead and doing whatever she thinks is best. I do not condemn her for her independence of thought, certainly, but what seems problematic is her insistence on pretending to obey.

Ultimately, however, Torvald cares more for appearances than he does for his wife. When he learns of the loan and Nora's deception, he accuses her of "destroy[ing] all [his] happiness," never mind that she saved his life. He calls her a "thoughtless woman," when she was actually being quite thoughtful—of him, at least. When the final note from Krogstad comes, Torvald cries out, "I am saved! Nora, I am saved!" He does not mention her until she asks, and then—only knowing that he does not face the ruin of his reputation—he forgives her. It has become apparent, though, that he does not love her: not the way she'd always imagined he did. She has deceived him about her true nature, and he has deceived her—perhaps even himself—about his own feelings and character. The marriage cannot survive.

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Nora and Torvald's marriage is complicated to say the least.

At the start they seem happy. Torvald dotes on Nora and Nora seems happy to please him in whatever way she can. However, even in the first scenes, there is something off about their relationship. Torvald views Nora more as a child than as a grown woman, scolding her for eating too much candy and withholding money from her even though she contributes money to the household with part-time work.

Nora admits that, for a long time, she was okay with this arrangement. She said she did not mind being treated like a doll by Torvald: she liked being his possession, being doted on, and being called sickly sweet nicknames.

Nora's calling herself a "doll" gets to the heart of the problem between them: both partners in this marriage have false images of one another. Torvald sees Nora as a helpless child he must protect. Moreover, there is a darker, erotic side to his behavior. At a party, Torvald has her dress up as he likes then makes her dance the tarantella, which excites him. When they are alone and he makes sexual advances; he tells Nora she is his "prized possession." He likes pretending they are secret lovers. This emphasis on costuming and roleplay shows that Torvald is himself in love with an illusion, not a real woman.

When Nora's secret is revealed and Torvald reacts negatively all the illusions are dispelled. Nora realizes she cannot go on as she has in this unequal marriage, so she leaves Torvald. Their relationship was built on lies and brittle ground, so it naturally dissipates.

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Nora and Torvald have, what appears on the surface, to be a good marriage according to the standards of the time. This marriage is based on quite distinct and unequal gender roles in which Torvald appears the classic male "breadwinner" and holds the power in the relationship while Nora is a housewife and consumer, treated by Torvald as though she is an innocent child.

The reality of the relationship, as we discover as we progress through the play, is quite different. Nora, in fact, has provided the money to help Torvald take care of a serious illness and by clever housekeeping and part-time work is striving to repay a moneylender. 

It turns out, though, that Torvald is only in love with an illusion of Nora and Nora herself has never really seen Torvald as he is, but rather imagines him a sort of romantic hero rather than a practical, somewhat self-centered, and unromantic businessman. As their true characters are revealed at a moment of high stress and conflict, the weakness of their marriage is revealed, and Nora leaves Torvald.

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Nora and Torvald do not have an equal partnership in their marriage. Torvald would never consider Nora his equal. He calls her silly little nicknames, scolds her like a child, and views her as his possession.

Torvald feels as if he should have the right to limit her intake of sweets, and chastises her when she cheats. He calls her a spendthrift, and she must beg for money for things.

Nora performs for Torvald at his request, as if she is an entertainer and not a wife. Nora has a secret that is causing her great anguish. Nora does not want to get into "trouble" with Torvald over a forgery that was needed to save his life. She struggles with this secret, and instinctively knows he will not tolerate her transgression.

Once the truth is out, Nora realizes she does not want to be in the type of marriage she is in, and walks away from it, leaving him stunned. Torvald would never have thought her capable of it. He thought she would have to live with whatever type of reaction he chose to have.

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