In A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, to what extent does Torvald treat Nora as a doll and as a child?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, Torvald consistently patronizes his wife Nora with seemingly innocuous comments such as "my little squirrel" and other demeaning rather than endearing comments. Torvald also scolds Nora over her fondness for macaroons and insists that she should not eat them. Nora does not help the situation because she sneaks macaroons and "wipes her mouth" just like a child may do. Torvald is abrupt with her, even telling her not to interrupt him in a tone usually reserved for a relationship between a parent and a child. He even gives her money and expects the kind of excitement which a child would normally show when receiving pocket money. He reveals the unequal and dependent nature of their relationship when he says, "No one would believe how much it costs a man to keep such a little bird as you." later, he dismisses her and berates her for telling an "untruth." Their relationship has no depth, such as they will both find out at their own expense later in the play. 

Torvald has an unrealistic picture of Nora which Nora would rather preserve at the moment. She even talks about herself and her "dolly children." She does suggest that she may tell him her deepest secret one day

"when Torvald is not so much in love with me as he is now ; when it doesn't amuse him any longer to see me dancing about, and dressing up and acting..."

This confirms how he treats her as a doll, believing that she is almost fragile and certainly not to be taken seriously. He even refers to Nora as her husband's "property in Act 3 and Nora remarks how she has been his "doll-wife" which he cannot deny. 

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A Doll's House

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