A Doll's House Questions and Answers
by Henrik Ibsen

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How does A Doll's House challenge or affirm the social order it describes?

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We can tell, even from the beginning, that Nora Helmer is not complacent in her role as the perfect wife and mother because, first, she took out the loan from Krogstad, acting without her husband's or father's knowledge and approval, and second, she continues to engage in behaviors that her husband has forbidden. Torvald Helmer has specifically told Nora to stop eating sweets because it will ruin her teeth, and, yet, she continues in the activity and simply hides it from him. She isn't submissive; she only appears to be. This is enacted on a larger scale when we learn that she's engaged a loan without Torvald's knowledge or permission and has been working (something women of her class do not often do) to pay it back.

Nora has, thus, already rebelled against the role she is supposed to play by only pretending to be obedient. This is not to say that she isn't a devoted wife and mother—she is—but she has not fulfilled the role of wife, at least, in the manner in which society would dictate....

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