Please give a character analysis of Nora in A Doll's House.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Nora is of course the protagonist of this excellent drama, and also she is the "doll" in the title. Key to understanding her character is realising how she has allowed herself to be treated, by both Torvald, her husband, and in the past by her father. It seems that throughout the play, until the final Act, when she comes to some inner-understanding of her own identity and worth, she is playing a part that has been given to her by other people, which she does with aplomb. From her first entrance, she appears girlish, immature and flighty. Her efforts are engaged in charming her husband and keeping him happy whilst trying to be the perfect wife. Yet, in spite of this, she also tries to conceal various secrets and ways in which she has been acting behind Torvald's back. It appears that deceit is something that Nora has grown into - it is a habit that she persists in even when there is no perceivable benefit to herself. She believes that she is in a position of complete dependence on her husband, and this is a myth that she only realises isn't true by the final act. However, at the end of the play, she shows great resilience and inner-strength with her determination to seek a new life for herself:

When a wife leaves her husband's house, as I'm doing now, I'm told that according to the law he is freed of any obligations towards her. In any case, I release you from any such obligations. You mustn't feel bound to me in any way however small, just as I shall not feel bound to you. We must both be quite free. Here is your ring back. Give me mine.

It is this inner-strength and determination to seek her own life on her own terms that we remember Nora for, not the childish names that her husband bestows on her. Our lasting impression of her character is characterised in the sound of the street door being slammed shut as she leaves all she has ever known to seek out a new life.

Nora is the "doll" wife of Torvald. She is sensitive, sensible, and completely unaware of her own worth until the last act of the play. She initially appears flighty and excitable. Nora is most concerned with charming her husband and being the perfect wife; she is also secretive and hides her thoughts and actions from her husband even when there is no real benefit in doing so. Rather, deception appears to be almost a habit for Nora. Her husband constantly refers to her with pet names, such as "singing lark," "little squirrel," and "little spendthrift." He pats her on the head much as one would a favorite puppy. She forges her father's signature on a loan, lies to her husband about the source of the money, lies about how she spends the household accounts, and lies about odd jobs she takes to earn extra money. She is viewed as an object, a toy, a child, but never an equal. Her problem is that she is totally dependent upon her husband for all her needs; or she deceives herself into thinking so until the end of the play.

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