What kind of wife  does Helmer want Nora to be? He affectionately calls her names such as "lark" and "squirrel."

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The character of Torvald was, in part, designed to be an extension of Nora's father. Although Nora's father is not an active character, but we do know that he used Nora as a doll to play with. As Nora stated herself, she went from "her father's hands to those of Torvald". In the end, Helmer treated her just as her father did.

Hence, a wife is expected to nurture, entertain, obey, accept, become educated, be protected, be needy, and be temperamental. All these qualities are the ones that Torvald kept repeating over and over to Nora. After the issue with Krogstaad, she realized that her husband was no different than her father, and that she had wasted her time and care for no reason on both. This is when she decided that, rather than submitting to their expectations of her, she would go out and find out who she really is.

copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In short, Torvald wants a wife who will succumb to his every wish, desire, and/or command. He wants a wife who will behave like a kept animal or a pet. He also constantly refers to her as "little" or some other diminutive terms as though she is a child or a toy, a "doll." In all of these cases, Torvald sees himself--and men in general--as being superior, and women as being inferior and subservient.

However, Torvald's chauvinistic ways are not entirely his blame alone. He is a product of his society and culture and has never considered the possibility that Nora might have her own ideas, her own desires, or even her own needs.