In A Doll's House do the characters have any redeeming qualities?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Nora has behaved selflessly and generously to her husband, Torvald . Years ago, his health was failing, and she took out a loan from a man of questionable reputation so that she and Torvald could retire to Italy for a year and get him healthy. And though it "saved Torvald's...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Nora has behaved selflessly and generously to her husband, Torvald. Years ago, his health was failing, and she took out a loan from a man of questionable reputation so that she and Torvald could retire to Italy for a year and get him healthy. And though it "saved Torvald's life [...] it cost a frightful lot of money [...]." Since then, she has worked and saved and put every spare coin she could toward repayment of this loan without alerting her husband because she knows how upset he will be to learn that he is indebted to Krogstad. When approached by her friend Christina Linde, Nora speaks to Torvald on her behalf to secure a position for her at the bank. Nora is helpful, and really longs to be of use to the people she cares about. This is very redeeming, and it is what her husband fails to notice.

Krogstad, in the end, redeems himself by forgiving the remainder of the loan Nora took out from him. Torvald says, "he writes that he regrets and apologizes, that a happy turn in his life- Oh, what matter what he writes." Krostad has enclosed Nora's I.O.U. so that it can be destroyed, giving the Helmers peace of mind. Now that Krogstad has been reunited with the woman he loves, he seems not to feel the need to punish the Helmers any longer. He's far from perfect, but, in the end, he proves that he does have some kindness in him.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In focusing on the salient flaws of the characters of A Doll's House, Ibsen illustrates his style as "the father of modern drama". The uniqueness of finding more weaknesses than strengths in the characters is what makes this play unique, especially by the standards of its time. This being said we, as the audience, must infer what are the redeeming traits of each character.

Nora's strengths can be observed in her actions. The aim to please, the sacrifice that she makes for Torvald, and the fact that she is kind and amiable to everybody make her a likable character, despite of her many quirks. This shows that Nora is essentially a good woman; she simply has allowed herself to be taken by the wave of pre-requisites expected of her gender in a society that seldom understands her.

Torvald, another sample of his time and social status, merely acts the way in which he is also expected to behave. However, it is an undeniable fact that he does love Nora; not once do we see Nora doubting his admiration, nor his feelings for her. He is not a womanizer, and although he is unfair with Nora, he is by no means unloving.

The secondary characters are not developed well-enough for the audience to distinguish any redeeming qualities, except for superficial ones. This is done on purpose to keep the focus on Nora, who is not only the main character but also the biggest victim within the plot.  If we were to award some redeeming qualities to Mrs.Linde, however, we could say that she seems loyal to Nora and is essentially someone who needs love in her life, like Krogstad, and like Dr. Rank as well.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team