In A Doll's House, what purpose did Mrs. Linde's arrival serve?

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The arrival of Mrs. Christine Linde introduces complications to the plot of A Doll's House; also, her significant role in the play furthers the character development of Nora Helmer, who learns to stop hiding the truth of her actions and feelings.

With the arrival of Mrs. Christine Linde,...

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The arrival of Mrs. Christine Linde introduces complications to the plot of A Doll's House; also, her significant role in the play furthers the character development of Nora Helmer, who learns to stop hiding the truth of her actions and feelings.

With the arrival of Mrs. Christine Linde, a foil for Nora is introduced. Mrs. Linde is a friend of Nora's from their youth, but unlike Nora, Mrs. Christine Linde, who also needed money for an ill relative (her mother), did not commit a crime to obtain the money. However, she is not entirely without fault. She left a man who loved her to marry someone who could provide for her ailing mother and her younger brothers. Since her spouse's death, Christine had to work continuously to provide for the boys. When she visits her old friend, Christine tells Nora, "...I had to manage as best I could. With a little store and a little school and anything else, I could think of. The last three years have been one long workday for me, Nora, without any rest"(Act 1). Nora, too, works. She does copy work and other things to repay a loan that allowed her ill husband to go to Italy to rehabilitate. The difference is that Nora is surreptitious about this job and her use of part of her allowance from her husband for repayment of the loan. She also has previously broken the law, whereas the foil character of Christine has worked honestly and has done nothing illegal.

Now that the boys are older and independent and her mother has passed away, Mrs. Linde feels "a great emptiness" that she hopes to fill with a permanent job, which will occupy her time and provide some reward. She hopes to attain a position with Torvald, who tells her that it is "quite likely" that he can provide her one. Later, after visiting with Nora longer and becoming aware of Nora's secrets, Christine tries to awaken Nora's conscience. Christine advises Nora to let her husband, Torvald, learn the truth about Krogstad's having lent Nora the money for the trip to Italy. Her old friend tells Nora, "Oh, believe me, Nora. That's the best thing for both of you" (Act 2). Christine underscores this conviction when she talks to Krogstad, telling him that Torvald must learn the truth about Nora's loan. "This miserable secret must come out in the open; those two must come to a full understanding. They simply can't continue with all this concealment and evasion" (Act 3).

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In A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, Nora will ultimately discover that her life as Torvald's "little squirrel" is shallow and that her marriage will not withstand the dramatic turn of events. Christine Linde is the ideal contrast to Nora, exposing Nora's dependence and her one-dimensional relationship with Torvald Helmer, her husband.

Torvald treats Nora like a child, even trying to appease her disappointment when she suggests that they spend a little more money and be "more reckless" due to Torvald's new job. Torvald's response is to patronize her further when he says, "One would hardly believe how expensive such little persons are," even suggesting that she has inherited her father's propensity for spending, and cannot help herself.

When Christine Linde, an apparent "stranger" arrives  Nora does not immediately recognize her and this serves to emphasize how far removed Nora is from the life that Mrs Linde has lived. Nora's self-absorption is apparent as she talks excitedly and Nora's astonishment that Mrs Linde's husband left her penniless and childless is beyond Nora's comprehension. Mrs Linde's arrival therefore helps to develop Nora's character and forewarn the audience / reader that Nora's whole existence is based on her warped understanding of the roles of husband and wife which will only serve to create an untenable situation but one that, thanks to Mrs Linde, Nora can learn from.

Mrs Linde's arrival also develops the plot as it is she who decides that it is time for Nora to tell the truth. Her arrival foreshadows other unexpected events and occurrences which will change the nature of Torvald and Nora's relationship.

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