In A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, what is the significance of Nora?

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Nora, a 19th century wife, is the main character of the play, which was also produced and staged during the 19th century. Much to the shock of those who first saw it, A Doll's House is both a reformist and a feminist play. This alone was quite scandalous. 

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Nora, a 19th century wife, is the main character of the play, which was also produced and staged during the 19th century. Much to the shock of those who first saw it, A Doll's House is both a reformist and a feminist play. This alone was quite scandalous. 

Neither of those two descriptors would have been welcome to be applied to females during this time period. In fact, the universal construct of the image of the 19th century female was that of the "Angel of the Household." This ideal described wives as the spiritual and aesthetic anchors of the home. Essentially, Nora's job in the house would have been just to do exactly what she was doing: entertaining, nurturing, making her husband chuckle, and doting after her family. Nothing more. This idealistic portrayal of women was nothing short of propaganda propelled by a super popular poem by Coventry Patmore (1852) in which he created what would later become this (unrealistic, yet) much-embraced epitome of the Victorian wife, which he supposedly modeled after his own wife, Emily. 

That being said, Nora symbolizes the massive dichotomy and personal conflict that many females of Nora's time may have experienced: females versus their society: Is a woman more than just "an angel" in the household? Can a woman do more, or be allowed to do more, than just act like an ornamental piece? Is there such a thing as an angel of the household in the first place?

Consider this: Nora's problem in the play is that she vies for attention to extract some degree of validation from her husband. Her tragic flaw, however, is that, despite obediently playing the part of the decorative wife, she also wants to feel genuinely appreciated, validated, and considered something more than the ornamental "angel of the household" persona expected of women. This would be Nora's tragic flaw because, due to her circumstances, there is no way she can ever attain her wish.

Therefore, Nora's wish for "a wonderful thing," to happen is basically the dream that her validation will come true. If her husband ever found out about the secret loan deal Nora struck with the disgruntled Krogstad, she hopes Torvald will take the blame for it and (on top of all that) realize Nora did everything as a sacrifice for him. This ongoing preoccupation that gnaws at Nora also piques at her. It makes her wonder what exactly is her role in the household, in the eyes of her husband. This dichotomy of thought is the embodiment of what Nora represents in the play: the struggle of a woman against her society.

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