In A Doll's House, is Nora a victims of circumstances or a villian who brings about problems? What is lbsen's view? 

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Henrik Ibsen was keen to expose social constraints such as they affected men and women of the time and his play A Doll's House, caused far more controversy than he expected. Rather than revealing that men and women are equally stereotyped and limited by their expected roles in society, A Doll's House received criticism for Nora's decision to leave her children. It was not feasible for a woman, no matter how demeaned and belittled, to effectively abandon her children. It is often seen as a feminist play but Torvald is equally as much restricted by his paternalistic, dominant role as Nora is by her subservient one.

Nora is most certainly a victim of circumstances, feeling that she has to forge her father's signature on a document to secure a loan that will save her husband's life. To Nora, it is a small price to pay to save a life. The fact that the restrictions placed on women, at the time, were unjust is what mitigates Nora's decision - "a woman has no right to spare her dying father, or to save her husband's life ! I don't believe that."

It is also the reason why she cannot understand Torvald's reaction to her apparent sacrifice or, to his way of thinking, believing "my dearest Nora, what have you to do with serious things?"

Torvald is still focused on the effect it will have on him and the embarrassment Nora is apparently bringing on the household - "consider what the world will say" is his motivation for trying to make her stay. Nora has finally realised that she has spent too much time in the pursuit of the happiness of others - especially Torvald's - and in keeping up appearances. She used to think this was worth it because Torvald loved her but now she knows he loves his reputation far more than his wife as "no man sacrifices his honour, even for one he loves."  

The "miracle" that Nora has waited for - the real proof of Torvald's love and appreciation for her sacrifice - is not going to happen and Torvald has not given any thought to the burden his "little squirrel" has borne all these years, only that "I almost think you are out of your senses."

Nora does not believe she is worthy of her children and after all the years of being made to believe that the children are victims of the parents' vices - such as Dr Rank - she is not leaving them from  simply her own selfish needs but because she truly thinks that she may compromise them in some way and ruin their future.This makes Nora the ultimate victim.  

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is little doubt that Nora is victimized by a society that places unreasonable restrictions upon women. Because she was not able to procure credit, she forged the signature of her father in order to procure a loan so that her husband, Torvald, could go to Italy and regain his health. Now she must keep her act a secret and work clandestinely to pay off this loan.

Unfortunately for Nora, there are complications that develop in hers and Torvald's lives which lead to the revelation of the illegal act that she committed because of her love for her husband. One day Krogstad, an employee at Torvald's bank, comes out of Torvald's study after he has been relieved of his position for immoral behavior; Torvald later hires an old friend of Nora's for this position. Later, holding a contract that contains Nora's forgery of her father's name, Krogstad returns and threatens to reveal her secret if she does not get his position back for him from her husband. Nora realizes that if he uncovers her crime, it will bring shame upon her and Torvald. She considers leaving, but her husband calls to her. He has read the letter that Krogstad has written, revealing Nora's secret. Enraged, he tells Nora that her act has caused him to be in Krogstad's power. Now he must yield to the man's demands. He vilifies Nora, calling her a "wretch."

HELMER All these years...she, my pride and my joy--a hypocrite, a lair...a criminal!....To do down so miserably, to be destroyed--all because of an irresponsible woman!

Later, however, he tells Nora that he has forgiven her because of her "womanly helplessness." Quietly, Nora thanks him for his forgiveness, but she tells him that she realizes that he "only thought it was fun to be in love with me." Now because their marriage will merely be one of appearances, and because she holds Helmer responsible "that nothing has become of [her]" while he has treated her like a doll, not a wife, Nora decides to leave Torvald. She explains to him that she needs to make sense of "[her]self and everything around her.” Then she departs.