An essay about Nora Helmer’s increasing self-knowledge should focus on the key lessons she shows she has learned by the end of act 3. These key points should be incorporated into a central argument, or thesis statement, in the essay’s first, or introductory, paragraph. The introduction should include a brief indication of how those lessons are developed in each of the three acts. In three paragraphs that follow, each one can focus on the content of one act. The fifth, or concluding, paragraph, should bring together the most significant aspects of each act and reconnect them to the thesis advanced in the introduction.
At the play’s end, the door closes behind Nora. She has developed enough confidence in her own skills and self-worth that she knows that, somehow, she will be able to support herself and gain the self-respect she has been lacking. Equally important, she finally admits that she is not dependent on Torvald. The reverse is actually true: for many years, she has been making financial decisions and earning money, all the while hiding her activities from him. Furthermore, when she is honest with him, he proves a hypocrite whom she cannot respect.
In the first act, the audience sees Nora timidly interacting with her husband and deferring to his patronizing treatment. Through her reunion with her old friend Christine Linde, Nora begins to see that women can earn a living and overcome serious obstacles. She verbalizes what she had kept inside, that she has been secretly earning money and took out a fraudulent loan without her husband's knowledge. She also learns that Torvald’s rigid morality would never allow him to forgive her crime and deception.
In act 2, Nora progresses further on her quest of self-discovery when she argues with Krogstad and finds him totally unmoved by her offer of self-sacrifice. Her understanding that she has no influence over another person’s decision occurs alongside her newfound appreciation for personal responsibility. Once she accepts being responsible in one domain of her life, she realizes that she will be able to live independently—a conviction she conveys to Torvald in act 3.