To summarize A Doll’s House from Nora’s perspective, it’s important to keep the major events of the play in mind while also showing an understanding of Nora’s character. Keep in mind that she took certain actions, such as borrowing money, in order to save her husband. Now, she is faced with the dilemma of having to pay back the money without Torvald finding out, because she knows he will be upset with her for lying—not to mention that in that time period, it is illegal for a woman to borrow money. Then, there’s also the fact that she forged her father’s signature to get the money. In the back of her mind, although her intentions were honest, she knows she can be in big trouble. Nora is leading a double life.
Discuss her feelings about Torvald’s nicknames. Consider whether they don’t bother her or whether she endures them merely because she doesn’t want to argue. She knows he will give her money, which she needs to pay the debt. She also knows she is playing a dangerous game working each night while pretending to be preparing for the holidays.
When Christine visits, Nora wants to confess her big secret, but she must be careful; she is incredibly proud of herself for having carried out such an elaborate ruse with happy results. Torvald recovered, and all is well—except for that debt. Nora wants to help her friend, so she quickly agrees to ask Torvald for a job for Christine. She also confesses her secret, but Christine is wary of the consequences, forcing Nora to defend her actions. Perhaps that is why she doesn’t say immediately that Krogstad is the one who holds the debt; Christine knows him, and Nora has already confessed too much information.
Also consider Nora’s interaction with the children. She seems so happy to hear about their day of play. Although she is not shown spending a lot of time with them, she seems thrilled when they enter the room, and she easily speaks their language.
Next, think about why Nora is so confident when talking with Krogstad. She believes that she will soon be free of the debt and that Krogstad will be out of her life forever. However, she doesn’t realize that he holds all the cards: she is guilty of a crime, and he can always hold that over her head. She tries to defend her actions, but she still misses the part about the law.
After her uncomfortable discussion with Krogstad, she is faced with another with Torvald. He tells her that it’s always the mother’s fault if someone is a bad person, like Krogstad. She is terrified that her deceit will affect her children, leading her to start to distance herself from them. How do you think she feels about not seeing them?
Torvald intends to fire Krogstad, which terrifies Nora; she knows Krogstad will retaliate. Additionally, Nora is worried about their friend, Dr. Rank, who has been ill and now confesses that he is dying and he loves her. How many more problems can Nora deal with? She feels she is out of options. “Torvald, there is no hope for us now!”
Later, as Nora dances, Christine tells her “you are dancing as if your life depended on it.” She is correct. Christine advises her to tell Torvald the truth before Krogstad exposes it.
When Torvald finally discovers the truth, is Nora the same person she was at the beginning? Note her strength even when he calls her a “miserable creature,” a far cry from “my little lark.” She sees the truth of Torvald when he cries, “I am saved,” and she does not think of her feelings. Why does Nora feel she must leave now? Does she think she is a bad influence on her children? Does she recognize that she doesn’t have a real marriage or the respect of her husband? Does she need to find her own self-respect?