A Doll's House Questions and Answers
by Henrik Ibsen

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How is the idea of selfishness explored in A Doll's House?

The idea of selfishness is explored in the play mainly through the character of Torvald, for it is Torvald's selfishness which provides the catalyst for most of the play's events. It's notable that when Nora's crimes come to light, Torvald is only concerned with his own reputation. This is despite the fact that Nora only committed these crimes for the good of Torvald's health. To some extent, Torvald's selfishness reflects the capitalist world in which he works.

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Torvald doesn't just work in the capitalist world, he internalizes its values. While Nora is stuck at home keeping house and taking care of the children, Torvald is out and about in the competitive, cutthroat world of men of business, imbibing the selfishness that is required to get ahead in the capitalist system. When Torvald returns home, he brings those values with him. As a consequence, domestic life at the...

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