In Ibsen's A Doll's House, what does Nora's tree decorating and chattering at the end of Act One reveal about her character?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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At the end of Act One of Ibsen's A Doll's House, Nora is acting particularly child-like. 

When Nora enters the house, she is filled with excitement. She has been Christmas shopping. Her husband calls her by pet names to which she readily and happily answers: names such as "lark twittering," "squirrel," "spendthrift," and "featherhead." He does not speak to her as an adult. He even "takes her playfully by the ear."

Nora seems irresponsible in a childish way: if Torvald would suddenly die and leave no way to settle debts, she says she wouldn't worry about paying the money back; she wouldn't care.

Nora has secretly brought candy that she eats and hides, wiping her mouth to remove evidence of what she has eaten. 


Just now. [Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.] Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

When Torvald takes out money, just like a child, Nora becomes really excited. When Torvald asks what she wants for Christmas, Nora is flirtatious:


[playing with his coat buttons, and without raising her eyes to his]. If you really want to give me something, you might—you might—


Well, out with it!


[speaking quickly]. You might give me money, Torvald.

As the conversation continues, Torvald indulgently accuses Nora of sneaking sweets:


[wagging his finger at her]. Hasn't Miss Sweet-Tooth been breaking rules in town to-day?

Like a kid, Nora views the upcoming holidays with great anticipation. She is delighted by the gifts she has bought, and is trying hard to keep her Christmas plans a secret. In essence, although Nora is a wife and mother, she is still very much a child, and Torvald supports this behavior, seemingly pleased with her subordinate position.

She is sensitive, sensible, and completely unaware of her own worth until the last act of the play.


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