Another difference between the two characters is that Mrs. Linde realizes that she has compromised her independence and freedom much earlier than Nora does. When she, in her youth, decided to leave Krogstad, the man she really loved, in order to marry a man who was much more financially secure, she knew full well what she was doing. She tells Krogstad of that time, "You ought not to forget that I had a helpless mother and two little brothers. We could not wait for you, Nils, as your prospects then stood." Thus, she married a man she did not love in order to do her duty to her family, relinquishing her own desires and hopes for the future.
Nora, on the other hand, did marry a man she loved, but she soon came to learn—as Mrs. Linde already seems to have known—that love is sometimes not enough. Nora made mistakes, to be sure, but her heart was in the right place when she took the loan from Krogstad: she did it in order to save her husband's life! When he learns of her well-intentioned deception, Torvald calls her a "wretched woman," berating her cruelly. He says,
I ought to have known how it would be. I ought to have foreseen it. All your father's want of principle—be silent!—all your father's want of principle you have inherited—no religion, no morality, no sense of duty . . . You have destroyed my whole happiness. You have ruined my future . . . And all this disaster and ruin is brought upon me by an unprincipled woman!
Only when Torvald learns that Krogstad has forgiven the debt does he change his tune. He promises Nora that he's forgiven her, without realizing that he now requires her forgiveness. He even goes on and on about how good forgiving her makes him feel, saying,
There is something indescribably sweet and soothing to a man in having forgiven his wife—honestly forgiven her, from the bottom of his heart. She becomes his property in a double sense. She is as though born again; she has become, so to speak, at once his wife and his child. That is what you shall henceforth be to me, my bewildered, helpless darling.
Only now does Nora realize how her marriage has compromised her, as Mrs. Linde's did for different reasons. Her husband thinks of her as his property, his possession, to do with whatever he pleases. He thinks she is unintelligent and unprincipled, but now that he will not be harmed by it, he sees her "bewilder[ment]" and "helpless[ness]" as endearing evidence of her womanhood. She tells her husband,
You have never understood me—I have had great injustice done me, Torvald; first by father, and then by you . . . I lived by performing tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and father have done me a great wrong. It is your fault that my life has come to nothing.
In the end, both Nora and Mrs. Linde right the wrongs of their unfulfilling first marriages: Mrs. Linde gets to be with the man she has loved all along, and Nora leaves Torvald and her family, striking out on her own to be independent and free, to find out who she really is and what she wants out of life.