A Doll's House Questions and Answers
by Henrik Ibsen

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How do you interpret Nora's final slamming of the door in A Doll's House?

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nora has reached a breaking point and realizes, in the play's final scene, that she can't continue with her marriage. It's somewhat ironic that this occurs afterthe blackmail threat from Krogstad has been lifted and she no longer has to fear being exposed for having forged her father's signature on the loan application years earlier.

Many commentators have seen her closing the door on her husband as an act symbolic of women's independence, and this interpretation is valid. But one needs to examine the immediate cause of her action and to place it in the context of the story. Up until this point Nora has been a basically submissive and typical nineteenth-century middle-class wife. Her life revolves around Torvald and the children, and she behaves in a way that suggests she is self-consciously doing things she knows will please him even if they are to an extent false and exaggerated. For instance, she overreacts with joy when he gives her extra cash to spend. Her performance for the masquerade party on Christmas Eve is like a kind of puppet show in which Torvald is pulling the strings, and when she does something incorrectly, he exclaims, "She's forgotten everything I've taught her!" as if he thinks himself an authority on dance as well as everything else. And Nora does nothing to contradict or stand up to his domineering behavior at this time.

The turning point is the tirade in which Torvald hurls a stream of abuse at her over the blackmail threat from Krogstad. So far we have seen only hints of oppressive and spiteful talk from Torvald, but this is what now makes Nora see that she cannot continue in a marriage with a man who treats her this way. Torvald has no ability or willingness to place the "wrong" committed into context and understand that Nora's taking out the loan under false pretenses was done for his benefit, in order to obtain the medical treatment he needed. Nora's walking out is, in fact, symbolic of the liberation of women in the coming age, but it is also the endpoint of her very personal reaction to the demeaning way her husband treats her, culminating in the abusive language he stuns her with when he feels threatened by Krogstad.

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cybil eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The ending of this Ibsen play is a powerful one that emphasizes the finality of Nora's decision to leave Torvald. She doesn't merely close the door to their relationship; she slams the door. That chapter in her life as Torvald's "doll" wife is completely over; Nora is never coming home. She has made her decision deliberately and explained it calmly to Torvald before she walks out, but the slammed door punctuates her statement with an exclamation point that she no longer suffer his treatment of her silently. Nora declares she is an individual first, and she leaves to pursue her life as one. The audience is not left wondering about her choice; we don't know, however, whether she will succeed in her new life as a woman who has abandoned her family.

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