What quotes from Ibsen's play, A Doll's House, express Nora Helmer's internal thoughts and emotions?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House, there are several places where Nora reveals her feelings and thoughts.

At the end of Act One, when Torvald says that people that go wrong young in life are generally children of chronic liars, we learn that Nora is afraid that her presence will poison her children because of the lies she has had to tell to save Torvald's life. Torvald has left the room and Anne-Marie wants to bring the children in, as they are begging to see their mother:

No, no, no  don't let them in to me!...Hurt my children—! Poison my home? That's not true. Never. Never in all the world.

When Krogstad finally tells Nora that he will expose the lie she has hidden as to where she received the money to take Torvald to Italy, Nora dreads the event. She believes so completely in Torvald's love for her that she plans her own suicide so that he will not be tempted to take the blame onto himself to protect her.

Toward the end of Act Three, Nora imagines her suicide, freezing in the black water, never again to see her husband or children:

Never see him again. Never, never. Never see the children either—them, too. Never, never. Oh, the freezing black water! The depths—down— Oh, I wish it were over— He has it now; he's reading it—now. Oh no, no, not yet. Torvald, good-bye, you and the children...

When Torvald comes out of his office, he is ranting with fury, and still she believes he will protect her by taking the blame. This perception is quickly obliterated.

...Let me go! Let me out!...Don't try to save me, Torvald....It's true. I've loved you more than all this world...Just let me loose. You're not not going to suffer for my sake. You're not going to take on my guilt.

Torvald's response:

No more playacting. You stay right here and give me a reckoning. You understand what you've done? Answer! You understand?

Nora is finally opening her eyes to see not what she thought was or would be there, but the reality that has been there through their entire marriage:

(The stage direction says that Nora is "looking squarely at him, her face hardening.")  Yes. I'm beginning to understand everything now.

It is as this very moment that Nora knows that although her life has been about her husband and her children, her life has had nothing to do with her. She is further enlightened when Torvald tells her she will never be allowed near the children again...until Krogstad's second note assures him that the details will never go public. Torvald is relieved, but Nora knows she can no longer live with this stranger, and so she leaves Torvald at the end of the play.

Read the study guide:
A Doll's House

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