In A Doll's House, why is honour more important than love for Torvald?Why does Nora reject his position on this matter?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

HELMER
I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora - bear sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one he loves.

NORA
Thousands of women have done it.

HELMER
You talk - and think - like a child.

NORA
Maybe. But you neither think nor talk like the man I want to be married to. As soon as your fear was over - and it was not fear for what might befall me, but for what might happen to your honour - then the whole thing was past: nothing had happened. I was your doll again.

Torvald's honour is more important to him than being in love with Nora because - quite simply - that is the culture in which he has grown up. That is how men are expected to behave, that is the set of values he has grown up knowing about, and being expected to value, and he fits in with that. It's a cultural thing.

Nora isn't just standing up against Torvald, but against a whole culture and idea of marriage and men and women. She rejects his position because, at the very start of her journey towards independent thought and knowing what she herself feels about things, she realises she doesn't agree with it, and doesn't believe in it.