Three characters and their actions in A Doll’s House clearly reveal Ibsen’s exploration of poor decisions and their consequences. This approach to life primarily applies to Nora Helmer, who chose to commit fraud and has lied to her husband ever since. Nora has felt guilty and suffers from low self-esteem. She could also be in legal trouble if her forgery were exposed. Nils Krogstad’s decision to blackmail Nora not only has consequences for his personal integrity, but also is the catalyst for revealing Nora’s crime. Torvald Helmer’s decisions to forgive his wife and continue to be married, but only for the sake of appearances, contributes to her decision to leave him.
Before the play’s action begins, Nora forged a signature on a financial document. Although her motivation was to help restore her husband’s health, she knew it was a crime and that he would disapprove if he ever knew. She had not reckoned with the negative repercussions for her self-esteem: she must compound the lies by keeping her money-earning activities secret from Torvald.
Nora’s desire to maintain secrecy and refusal to help Krogstad contribute to his decision to blackmail her. Although he also rationalizes that his action is to help his family, his decision to write to Torvald sets in motion the last part of the play. Torvald decides that he cares more about appearances than about his wife and tries to seem benevolent by forgiving her. However, his hypocrisy in wanting to continue their marriage as an empty façade proves too much for Nora, leading to her slamming the door on him.