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...

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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. Further, Nora is presented sympathetically, most especially after Torvald learns about the loan and verbally abuses her quite cruelly, and we can therefore ascertain that the play is meant to challenge the social order it describes because Nora challenges it.

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Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House first affirms the social order that it describes, but then it completely challenges it in the end.

We first meet the Helmer household in Act I, and Nora is presented to us as a seemingly-happy, over-stimulated and somewhat childish young wife whose silly behaviors seem to prompt a sense of sweet condescension in her husband. The way that Torvald condescends Nora is by using pet names and by questioning her spending and eating habits, while strongly recommending her to behave in a better way.

That shows us a social order in which the male undoubtedly holds the reigns of the family, and provides its sustenance. Nora's behavior is nothing but the best way that she can find to obtain validation and attention from Torvald, while building his ego and confirming his superiority over her.

However, underneath Nora's complaisance, there is a secret desire to be recognized for the sacrifices that Nora has to undergo in order to save Torvald during an illness; Nora actually breaks the social rules and asks an unrelated man, Krogstad, to loan her the money that the family needs to make it through...but she does this behind Torvald's back! Again, we notice how the play repeats this theme; the man is above the woman in both business and the family. "The woman" has only two choices: do everything, or do nothing at all. Nora is not the type to do nothing.

Hence, here comes the challenge: once Nora's actions with Krogstad are exposed, Torvald goes berserk with humiliation and embarrassment, completely ignoring Nora's intentions and focusing entirely on how she has broken with "the roles" of society.

This is what ultimately leads Nora to really challenge the social order; she makes the decision of abandoning her home, her family, and her life as Nora Helmer. She does this for herself, and to honor her own initiative and sacrifice. After all, she realizes that her family and her society will never be able to appreciate her for who she is; only for what she represents to them.

This way, A Doll's House first shows an affirmation of the social order that it describes by presenting us a wife that, on the surface, looks happy, content, and willing to fulfill the roles expected of her as a woman: entertainer, nurturer, and mistress of the household. However, this is merely the background from which Nora will break from, challenging the social order, and taking the initiative to move away from a fake life.

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