I have to choose a major character write an essay on how this character fits all the criteria for a narcissitic personality by giving specific examples from the play and explain their context in the play.
Narcissism is a misunderstood personality trait and is actually more prevalent in every day life than some realize. It seems to be present especially in the modern era where self-development and self- expression are encouraged and people do tend to be selfish.
In A Doll's House, Nora and Torvald are wrapped up in their own little worlds where apearances do not match reality and each of them strives to establish the "perfect" family according to their own interpretation of that. Nora and Torvald also do not have an appreciation of each other's approach to life and see things only from their own perspectives so are surprized by the other's actions whereas after eight years of marriage, they should have been better prepared for the outcome.
Torvald is the character who best fits the criteria for a narcissistic personality as, despite lessons learnt, he never truly understands anyone else's outlook and is bewildered by the reaction of others when he behaves in a seemingly befitting manner. Even at the end, he only really begs Nora to come home as her actions will reflect very badly on him and he realizes that she is serious.
A narcissist often has an admiration of themselves that exceeds self-confidence. He (she) believes in himself and his own methods to the point of excluding the opinion of others. Torvald calls Nora his "little squirrel" and other such diminutives, not to be familiar and loving but because she really is inferior to him - in his world. He finds her childishness irritating and satisfying at the same time and watches her to ensure she "behaves" - even to the point of not allowing her to eat her favored "macaroons" to the point of calling out to her to be sure she is not eating them and her sneaking around like a child but, at the same time, he encourages this childlike behavior as this will extend her reliance on him and feed his narcissism.
Nora cannot make decisions. He must protect her from that - or so he thinks. Torvald thinks that parents are directly responsible for the actions of their children- even as adults and therefore he and Nora must behave in a manner that will prepare his children for adulthood. Parental control is extremely important to Torvald. He feels pity for Dr Rank as, what hope is there ever for a man whose father ruined his reputation?
Torvald has no compassion for Krogstad. Everyone makes mistakes and Krogstad wants to make amends but his demeanour makes Torvald feel uncomfortable. Torvald distrusts him and - in a position of power such as Torvald now holds and despite the protestations of his wife, Torvald does not need to give Krogstad another chance so no amount of begging will move him. This also strengthens the concept of Torvald as the ultimate narcissist as he really sees his wife's attempted intervention as insignificant.
The play ends with an unresolved situation for Torvald whereas for Nora it is a new beginning. This in itself supports the view that Torvald does not appreciate, despite what has the potential to be a huge life lesson for him, the perspective of others. Where a person to interview him say 5 years later, he would no doubt blame Nora's childishness, immaturity and lack of appreciation for social norms for the breakdown of the marriage!