What is Nora's attitude toward the porter and what does it show about her character in act 1 of A Doll's House?

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As the play opens, Nora is bringing home the Christmas shopping. She carries several packages. Right behind her is a porter, carrying the Christmas tree and a basket. He hands the basket to Ellen, the family’s maid.

Nora inquires how much the porter’s charge is for carrying these things. When...

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As the play opens, Nora is bringing home the Christmas shopping. She carries several packages. Right behind her is a porter, carrying the Christmas tree and a basket. He hands the basket to Ellen, the family’s maid.

Nora inquires how much the porter’s charge is for carrying these things. When he tells her sixpence, she gives him a shilling—twice the amount he stated—and tells him to keep the change. This generosity at holiday time shows that she understands the value of workers’s time and that she is in the holiday spirit.

By establishing the idea that Nora is generous, Henrik Ibsen sets the stage for the subsequent conversation between Nora and her husband, Torvald, who then enters. Torvald teases her excessively about being a spendthrift, as she justifies spending a bit more this year because he is getting a promotion.

It soon turns out, however, that Torvald is completely clueless. Nora is far from frivolous; she has created this false impression in her husband’s mind to disguise the fact that she has been working herself, and scrimping and saving from the household money as well, so that she can repay a loan she obtained under false pretenses.

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In act 1, Nora leads the way into her home, followed by a porter, who carries the family Christmas tree and a basket of parcels for her. When he gives everything to Ellen, the family's maid, Nora asks him how much she owes him. He tells her "Fifty ore," and she hands him a crown, telling him to "keep the change." A note in the text tells us that there are one hundred ore in a crown, and so Nora has essentially given him as a tip just as much as she paid for her items. This would be like going out to a $20 dinner and then tipping the server $20: pretty unusual. This helps us to understand that Nora is generous, perhaps to a fault, and also that she spends money quite readily. She is not thrifty, to say the least, much to her husband's, Torvald's, chagrin. Nora's attitude toward the porter is as a person who has a great deal of money—which does not, not yet, at least—to a person performing a service. She is not haughty or snobbish; rather, she is pleasant and generous.

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