Explore Ibsen's portrayal of marriage and gender relations in A Doll's House.
Nora and Torvald have existed in their marriage in stereotypical roles of the time. Torvald is the breadwinner and head of the household. He is also in charge of treating Nora as a child. Scolding her for spending money frivolously, sneaking treats, and the like. Nora is expected to sing and flit about when it suits him, but when he retreats into his study it is expected that she is not to disturb him.
Nora has always complied with this set of standards, and is only now beginning to see a need for change. Her secret is a source of great fear. She is right to have this fear as readers will see, because Torvald will see her secret of the loan as a betrayal. He is cold and unforgiving, refusing to see that it was done for his health.
Nora comes to realize that she must leave her marriage if she wants to be an adult because her husband will not accept an equal partnership.Most marriages were based on roles much like this one. The man is in charge, and the woman is his accessory.