In what ways is Nora trapped in "A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nora is trapped in several ways. She is trapped by the conventions of her society, by her own personal background, and by her act of forging her father's signature to secure the loan that saved her husband's life earlier in their marriage.

Nora is trapped by the strict social code of her society. Women are essentially powerless, bowing always to the authority of men, particularly the authority of their fathers and husbands. Women in Nora's time were essentially powerless. Nora resorts to subterfuge and playacting to exercise control of any kind in her life.

Nora's personal background prepared her well for her role as wife to Torvald. She came directly from her father's home to her husband's home, exchanging her role of subservient daughter for that of doll wife. Nora had no experience before her marriage that would have made her question her new role in her husband's house.

Finally, Nora is trapped by her dishonest and illegal act of forging her father's signature in order to obtain a bank loan. The fact that she could not have obtained a loan on her own signature emphasizes the social inequality in which she lives. Although she has made regular payments on the loan from the household funds and gifts Torvald gives her,  this criminal act further serves to keep her in her repressive marriage. When the truth comes out and she sees her husband for the selfish, unloving man he is, Nora faces the reality of what her life has always been and chooses freedom.

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A Doll's House

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