Is Nora an example of early feminist characters or is she simply independent?
The playwright Ibsen himself staunchly denied that the play was feminist in nature or that he was a feminist. Instead, he said he was in favor of "human rights." As much as I find many of my students want to see Nora as feminist, it's important to keep the time in which the play was set as important. Furthermore, as Nora states, she believes she has been done wrong by her father and her husband; both of whom have treated her as a doll or a plaything. She conformed to their expectations; she had no role model showing her how to mother her own children, thus, leaving her with little emotional attachment to them so she can leave them as easily as a little girl can leave her dolls. Nora is engaged in a search for identity and independence. As she says, she has a "duty to myself...as an individual."
Nora pays little attention to the society that governs her time period. She cares little for the laws, and sticks to the standards of behavior in the ways that it benefits her - flirting with Torvald, dressing nicely for him, hiding her "indiscretion" from him to protect his pride. She is not standing up for her rights as a woman, but only for her need to be an individual. I wouldn't classify her as particularly "feminist". Thoughts?
Nora does not stand up for her rights, except for the right to have an identity. The role of women in the workplace is not challenged or decried in this play, with Mrs. Linde getting a job formerly occupied by a man, Mr. Krogstad. Nora's issues are personal and not political and have as much to do with Torvald and her father as with her society. We could argue this way, anyway.
I think in the end, Nora is heading toward a feminist outlook. While early in the play, she is twittering about like an idiot, in the end she does not accept the situation anymore.
I think walking away from a marriage because you are not having your needs met qualifies her as feminist. After all, she will have to stand on her own two feet now.